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

46 Pages Posted: 6 Sep 2002 Last revised: 1 Jun 2013

See all articles by Frank R. Lichtenberg

Frank R. Lichtenberg

Columbia Business School - Finance and Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute for Economic Research)

Date Written: September 2002

Abstract

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

Lichtenberg, Frank R., The Effect of Changes in Drug Utilization on Labor Supply and Per Capita Output (September 2002). NBER Working Paper No. w9139, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=328692

Frank R. Lichtenberg (Contact Author)

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