The Power of the Little Blue Pill: Innovations and Implications of Lifestyle Drugs in an Aging Population

17 Pages Posted: 21 Nov 2014

See all articles by Jacob S. LaRiviere

Jacob S. LaRiviere

University of Tennessee, Chattanooga

Hendrik Wolff

University of Washington - Department of Economics

Date Written: January 2015

Abstract

The launch of Viagra in April 1998 led to a historically unprecedented high usage of erectile dysfunction (ED) drugs. We test whether Viagra’s introduction significantly influenced outcomes for its target population such as sexually transmitted disease (STD) rates of older men, as well as its nontarget populations, such as divorces, natality, the distribution of the age spread within couples, female STDs, and sexual assault rates. We find causal evidence that Viagra’s introduction increased gonorrhea rates in older men by 15%–28%. We find no significant evidence of any effects on other variables. We take this as evidence that this lifestyle drug causes significant changes in choices only which affect short-term outcomes, while long-term planned decisions are unaffected. Overall, we find that the welfare impacts of Viagra with respect to our outcomes of interest are positive and large.

JEL Classification: I1, J1, O33

Suggested Citation

LaRiviere, Jacob S. and Wolff, Hendrik, The Power of the Little Blue Pill: Innovations and Implications of Lifestyle Drugs in an Aging Population (January 2015). Economic Inquiry, Vol. 53, Issue 1, pp. 540-556, 2015, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2528857 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/ecin.12147

Jacob S. LaRiviere (Contact Author)

University of Tennessee, Chattanooga ( email )

Department of Philosophy & Religion (#2753)
Chattanooga, TN 37403-2598
United States

Hendrik Wolff

University of Washington - Department of Economics ( email )

Box 353330
Seattle, WA 98195-3330
United States

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