Photo: Reuters/Bryan Woolston

Research from Princeton University economist and former US Treasury Department chief economist, Alan Krueger, shows that skyrocketing opioid use may be driving Americans out of the work force.

Krueger suggests in the paper published by Brookings on Thursday that an increase in prescriptions of the drugs from 1999 to 2015 may account for 20% of the decline in men’s labor-force participation (LFP) during the same period, and an even higher 25% of the decline in women’s LFP.

LFP, defined as the proportion of people employed or looking for work, has been in steady decline since the early 2000’s, reaching a 40-year low of 62.4% in 2015. In 2016, Italy was the only OECD country that had lower LFP among prime age men than the US. American women had fallen from ranking near the top of OECD countries to near the bottom.