Connected? Big Government, Labor Decline and Opioid Addiction
Connected? Big Government, Labor Decline and Opioid Addiction
Written By Micah Clark   |   09.20.17

There is a great deal of talk about America’s opioid crisis and what can be done about such drugs.  This has led to a focus on narcotic painkillers.  In reality, America has an addiction problem.  “What might be some of the factors leading to such addictions?” is a slightly different twist to a lot of the attention placed upon the types of drugs being abused.  Could certain trends be connected to this dependent behavior?

In 1960, only 3 percent of men in their prime were not in the U.S. labor force.  Today, that number has risen to 11 percent.   What impact might that have on men and the male psyche?  Is there a connection between a loss of work, government assistance, and substance abuse?

Here’s one possible revelation.  Among non-working men ages 24- 54 roughly half are taking a pain pill during the day.  Two-thirds of those are prescription medicines.

And then there is this: two-thirds of nonworking men who take pain pills use government programs, especially Medicaid, to pay for them.

Economist Alan B. Krueger looked into this in a study released through the Brookings Institution.  He writes that, “labor force participation is lower in areas of the U.S. with a high rate of opioid prescriptions, and labor force participation fell more in areas with a high rate of opioid prescriptions.”   (About 40 percent of non-working men say pain keeps them from working.)

If there is a connection, the question seems to be “did losing work increase drug use or abuse?” or “did more drug abuse lead to a less employment?”  One may wonder too, what the secondary effects from the government’s role might be, if any, in paying for such a large chunk of these medicines.  The study shows a trend, but is it not conclusive. Still, it is worthwhile to contemplate possible links to certain social problems.

This article was originally published by AFA of Indiana.

Micah Clark
In 1989 Micah Clark graduated from Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar, Missouri with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science. Micah interned as a member of the Indiana House of Representatives’ Republican staff and later became an Assistant Campaign Manager for a State Senator. Micah then served as a legislative assistant for Citizens Concerned for the Constitution. He served as the Indiana Family Institute’s Director of Public Policy, and later as its Executive Director, throughout the 1990’s. Micah is the only person to have served with all three of Indiana’s top statewide pro-family organizations. In November 2001, Micah became the Executive...
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