Illicit drug use, employment, and labor force participation

Michael T. French, M. Christopher Roebuck, Pierre Kebreau Alexandre

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

72 Scopus citations


Illicit drug use has declined among the U.S. adult population, but national surveys show the majority of illicit drug users are employed. Concern about workplace productivity, absenteeism, and safety has led many employers to establish employee assistance and drug testing programs. Given the sharp interest in workplace interventions, more information is needed about the relationships between drug use and labor market status. This study estimated the probability of employment and labor force participation for different types of drug users using nationally representative data from the 1997 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse. Results strongly indicated that chronic drug use was significantly related (negative) to employment for both genders and labor force participation for males. Furthermore, nonchronic drug use was not significantly related to employment or labor force participation. These findings suggest that workplace policies for illicit drug use should consider chronic or problem drug users apart from light or casual users.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)349-368
Number of pages20
JournalSouthern Economic Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics


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