Past Event

Drivers of the Fatal Drug Epidemic

October 18, 2018
12:30 PM - 1:30 PM
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Columbia School of Social Work (Room C03), 1255 Amsterdam Avenue, New York

The Columbia Population Research Center presents "Drivers of the Fatal Drug Epidemic," a seminar with Christopher J. Ruhm, Professor of Public Policy and Economics at the University of Virginia. 

This study examines the contributions of the medium-run evolution of local economies and of changes in the “drug environment’ in explaining county-level changes in drug and related mortality rates from 1999-2015. A primary finding is that drug mortality rates did increase more in counties experiencing relative economic decline than in those with more robust growth, but that the relationship is weak and mostly accounted by confounding factors. Conversely, the risk of drug deaths varies systematically over time across population subgroups in ways that are consistent with an important role for the public health environment related to the availability and cost of drugs. In particular, the relative risk and share of drug mortality increased rapidly for males and younger adults, compared to their counterparts, when the primary driver of the fatal drug epidemic transitioned from prescription to illicit opioids.

Christopher J. Ruhm is a Professor of Public Policy & Economics at the University of Virginia.  His recent research has focused on the role of government policies in helping parents with young children balance the competing needs of work and family life, and on examining how various aspects of health are produced – including the growth and sources of drug poisoning deaths in the United States, the rise in obesity and relationship between macroeconomic conditions and health.  His earlier research includes study of the determinants of health and risky behaviors, effects of job displacements and mandated employment benefits, transition into retirement, and the causes and consequences of alcohol and illegal drug policies.

This event is free and open to the public, but RSVP is required using the online form