Journal Article

Beyond the brink: unraveling the opioid crisis and its profound impacts

Economics & Human Biology, 53:101379, 1–19 (2024)
Open Access


This paper examines the long-standing and severe public health crisis, the opioid epidemic in the United States, which has been worsening since the mid-1990s. In contrast to previous research, it investigates the broader impacts of this epidemic, particularly on family members and healthcare systems. Using a comprehensive dataset spanning from 1998 to 2010, the study analyzes opioid use at the three-digit ZIP code level, utilizing data from the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and individual-level data from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) in a two-way fixed effect model. The findings reveal significant negative effects on family caregivers, notably adult children, due to the opioid epidemic. Additionally, opioid exposure is associated with increased healthcare utilization, including home health care and hospital use. This research contributes to a deeper understanding of the multifaceted consequences of the opioid epidemic.

Keywords: USA, age, health
The Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (MPIDR) in Rostock is one of the leading demographic research centers in the world. It's part of the Max Planck Society, the internationally renowned German research society.