Zahra Mohammadi
Interests: Health Economics, Empirical Microeconomics, Public Policy

Job Market Paper

The Effects of Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs on the Opioid Abuse Epidemic

Opioid abuse is a significant public health problem that has worsened over the last two decades. Prescription drug monitoring programs(PDMPs) are the main policies implemented in many US states in response. In this paper, I evaluate the effects of PDMPs using a new micro-level medical claim dataset consisting of 19 million people in 25 states made during 2001 to 2012. First, I perform a descriptive analysis of the trends in substance abuse/addiction during 2001-2012. Second, I perform a difference-in-difference analysis of the effects of PDMPs on abuse/addiction reduction, controlling for time, state and demographic effects. Further, I study the heterogeneous impact of the program on different subsamples. Third, I evaluate the effectiveness of the PDMPs for medical versus non-medical opioid users by looking at the medical history of each patient. Finally, I study the effectiveness of the programs in changing the patterns of prescriptions among providers and the overall probability of taking opioids in the study population.
My results show an overall 14% reduction in the odds of abuse, the effect is slightly higher for females compare to males and blacks compare to whites. PDMPs decreased the odds of abuse by 17% among low-income families and 12% for middle-income families but had no significant effect for higher-income families. It also decreased the odds of abuse by 16% among bachelor-degree holders while no significant effect for people with less than a high-school education. PDMPs effectiveness varies substantially by type of insurance, with a 19% reduction of the odds of abuse for HMOs, an 11% reduction for EPOs and no significant effect for PPOs or POSs. Medical histories show that at least 23% of abuse/addiction cases are the result of opioid diversion. There is no significant effect from PDMPs in abuse/addiction reduction among this group of individuals. Finally, PDMPs have affected other outcomes including the number of pharmacies and providers visited by patients and quantities of prescribed medications.


Alcohol and Labor Market Outcome with Manvi Bhatnagar (In Progress)

In this paper, we set up a structural model for the interaction between labor market outcomes and alcohol consumption. We estimate the model using The Russia Longitudinal Monitoring Survey (RLMS-HSE), rounds 2006-2012. Alcohol abuse is a major public health issue in Russia, so the Russian government has been undertaking several steps since 2005 to curb high levels of drinking. With our model, we explore various policies that can reduce consumption, and contribute to the substantial empirical literature on the effects of addictive behavior on productivity and human capital accumulation.

Teaching Experience

Teaching fields:
Microeconomics, Macroeconomics, Econometrics, Behavioral Economics, Statistics
Course Instructor:
Spring and Summer, 2016: Intermediate Macro, Penn
Summer, 2015:Intro to Macro, Penn
Teaching Assistant:
Fall, 2017 : Intermediate Finance, Penn( Wharton), Professor Saka
Spring, 2017: Behavioral Economics, Penn(Wharton), Professor Selman
Spring, 2016: Business Economics, Penn(Wharton), Professor Harrington
Fall 2015 Statistics for Economists, Penn, Professor DiTraglia
Spring, 2014-15 Intermediate Micro, Penn, Professor Burdett
Spring, 2013: Intermediate Macro, Penn, Professor Akcigit
Fall, 2012-14: Intro to Econ, Penn(Wharton), Professor Saka


Computer Skills: MATLAB, Stata, SAS, Julia, R, Python, ArcGIS, C++, Fortran, Machine Learning, Latex, Linux, Microsoft office


Professor Petra Todd
University of Pennsylvania

Professor Robert Town
The University of Texas at Austin

Professor Michael Sinkinson
Yale School of Management

Professor Andrew Shephard
University of Pennsylvania

Gizem Saka (teaching reference)
Senior Lecturer
University of Pennsylvania


I'm on the job market and will be available for interviews during the AEA meetings in Philadelphia from 1/5 to 1/7.