Abstract: I examine the impact of the opioid epidemic on subprime auto lending. Using a difference-in-differences framework, I find that a 10% increase in county-level opioid abuse causes a 2.9% increase in loan defaults. Moreover, the resulting higher default rates and weaker predictive performance of traditional credit measures (e.g., FICO score) generates a negative externality for borrowers in opioid-afflicted areas. In these areas, loan costs for subprime borrowers are 4.4% higher.
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