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The Effect of Changes in Drug Utilization on Labor Supply and Per Capita Output


  • Frank R. Lichtenberg


We hypothesize that pharmaceutical-embodied technical progress increases per capita output via its effect on labor supply (the employment rate and hours worked per employed person). We examine the effect of changes in both the average quantity and average vintage (FDA approval year) of drugs consumed on labor supply, using longitudinal, condition-level data. The estimates indicate that conditions for which there were above-average increases in utilization of prescriptions during 1996-1998 tended to have above-average reductions in the probability of missed work days. The estimated value to employers of the reduction in missed work days appears to exceed the employer's increase in drug cost. The estimates are also consistent with the hypothesis that an increase in a condition's mean drug vintage reduces the probability that people with that condition will experience activity and work limitations, and reduces their average number of restricted-activity days. The estimates imply that activity limitations decline at the rate of about one percent per year of drug vintage, and that the rate of pharmaceutical-embodied technical progress with respect to activity limitations is about 18% per year. Estimates of the cost of the increase in drug vintage necessary to achieve reductions in activity limitations indicate that increases in drug vintage tend to be very 'cost-effective.'

Suggested Citation

  • Frank R. Lichtenberg, 2002. "The Effect of Changes in Drug Utilization on Labor Supply and Per Capita Output," NBER Working Papers 9139, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:9139
    Note: HC PR

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Lichtenberg, Frank R, 1996. "Do (More and Better) Drugs Keep People Out of Hospitals?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(2), pages 384-388, May.
    2. Zvi Griliches, 1998. "R&D and Productivity Growth at the Industry Level: Is There Still a Relationship?," NBER Chapters,in: R&D and Productivity: The Econometric Evidence, pages 213-240 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Hulten, Charles R, 1992. "Growth Accounting When Technical Change Is Embodied in Capital," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(4), pages 964-980, September.
    4. Bahk, Byong-Hong & Gort, Michael, 1993. "Decomposing Learning by Doing in New Plants," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(4), pages 561-583, August.
    5. repec:umd:umdeco:sakellaris0002 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Frank R. Lichtenberg & Tomas J. Philipson, 2002. "The Dual Effects of Intellectual Property Regulations: Within- and Between-Patent Competition in the U.S. Pharmaceuticals Industry," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 45(S2), pages 643-672.
    7. Plutarchos Sakellaris & Dan Wilson, 2000. "The Production-Side Approach to Estimating Embodied Technological Change," Electronic Working Papers 00-002, University of Maryland, Department of Economics.
    8. Charles R. Hulten, 1992. "Growth Accounting When Technical Change is Embodied in Capital," NBER Working Papers 3971, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:

    1. Gowrisankaran Gautam & Town Robert & Barrette Eric, 2011. "Managed Care, Drug Benefits and Mortality: An Analysis of the Elderly," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 11(2), pages 1-32, January.
    2. Hartwig, Jochen, 2010. "Is health capital formation good for long-term economic growth? - Panel Granger-causality evidence for OECD countries," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 314-325, March.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J2 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor
    • O3 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights

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