CPRC Seminar - Oct 18

Columbia Population Research Center

is pleased to invite you to: 

Drivers of the Fatal Drug Epidemic"

presented by Christopher J. Ruhm

Professor of Public Policy & Economics

University of Virginia


Thursday, October 18, 2018

12:30pm - 1:30pm

Room C03

Columbia University School of Social Work

1255 Amsterdam Avenue


Registration required at https://cupop.formstack.com/forms/rsvp_alt

Lunch will be provided for those who RSVP to attend at the Columbia School of Social Work.



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.  He received his doctorate in economics from the University of California at Berkeley in 1984.  Prior to joining UVA, in 2010, he held faculty positions at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and Boston University and was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Brandeis University.  During the 1996-97 academic year, he served as Senior Economist on President Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisers, where his main responsibilities were in the areas of health policy, aging and labor market issues. He is currently a Research Associate in the Health Economics, Health Care Policy, and Children’s Programs of the National Bureau of Economic Research and a Research Fellow at the Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in Germany.  

Professor Ruhm’s 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 the relationship between macroeconomic conditions and health.  His earlier research includes the 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. He is a co-author of Time Out With Baby: The Case for Paid Parental Leave (published by Zero to Three) Turbulence in the American Workplace (published by Oxford University Press) and has more than 110 pieces published as book chapters and articles in economics, public policy and health journals.  His research has been cited in local, national, and international media outlets such as the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Money Magazine, USA Today, Business Week, CNN, ABC, CBS, BBC, and NPR.

Ruhm has received external research funding from a diverse set of organizations including the U.S. Department of Labor, National Science Foundation, several of the National Institutes of Health, the Alfred P Sloan Foundation, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Pivotal Ventures, Russell Sage Foundation, and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.  He is currently associate editor of the Journal of Health Economics and Southern Economic Journal, on the editorial board of the American Journal of Health Economics, Economics Letters and the Journal of Labor Research, President of the Southern Economic Association, on the Board of Directors of the American Society of Health Economists and a steering committee member of the Southeastern Health Economics Study Group.


For additional information regarding the Fall 2018 CPRC Seminar Series please visit: http://cupop.columbia.edu/events/seminar-series/cprc-seminars