Substance Abuse and Workplace Fraud: Evidence from Physicians

Melanie Millar, Roger M. White, Xin Zheng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We examine the relation between worker substance abuse and workplace fraud in a sample of medical doctors. Relative to their peers, we observe that doctors engaging in substance abuse are between 50 and 100 times more likely to commit fraud in a given year. This result is consistent with research suggesting that substance abuse both creates financial pressures and impairs the functioning of cognitive self-regulatory mechanisms. Our results are robust in within-subject tests and between-subject tests, as well as in tests using instrumental variables that exploit exogenous variation in the state-level availability of opioids, a commonly abused substance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)585-602
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Business Ethics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2023


  • Delay discounting
  • Fraud
  • Impulsivity
  • Substance abuse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Business, Management and Accounting(all)
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Law


Dive into the research topics of 'Substance Abuse and Workplace Fraud: Evidence from Physicians'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this