Opportunity for Health

The Rise of Industrial Robots and Increased Overdose and Disability Rates: A Story of Automation and Addiction in the U.S.

Rourke L. O’Brien, PhD · Atheendar S. Venkataramani, MD, PhD · Tisamarie Sherry · Marcia Galvan
Center for Financial Security, University of Wisconsin · April 14, 2021

Mortality rates for working age adults without a college degree have increased in recent years, driven by rising ‘deaths of despair’ including drug overdose mortality. At the same time, demand for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) programs among working age adults have increased in recent decades. Research suggests that fading economic opportunities—such as the decline of manufacturing employment—may explain an important portion of these worrisome trends.

On this April 14, 2021 webinar, researchers discussed their current research, funded by the Social Security Administration, that examines the impact of declines in manufacturing employment across labor markets—resulting from widespread adoption of industrial robots or from acute shocks such as plant closures—on mortality and disability. Following the research summary, presenters from a policy and practice perspective discussed the implications of the research on policies and programming.

(Note – interested viewers will need to click the link and register to view the video, which is free of charge).