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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Washington: Increases in Minimum Wage May Not Have Anticipated Positive Health Effects, Study Shows

A new study led by researchers at the University of Washington School of Public Health found that increases in minimum wages primarily had no effect on health overall. However, they did find a mix of negative and positive effects associated with the health of certain groups of working-age people.

The study, published Feb. 10 in the American Journal of Epidemiology, looked at more than 131,000 adults who provided information to the federal National Health Interview Survey between 2008 and 2015. The subjects were 25 to 64 years old and were either employed or unemployed but looking for work.

“We found that an increase in minimum wage really didn’t have a huge impact on health overall, which surprised us,” said lead author Mr. James Buszkiewicz, a doctoral student in epidemiology in the University of Washington School of Public Health. “We did see, when we looked at subgroups, some mixed health effects there, however.”

For example, the researchers found that a wage increase was associated with an increased likelihood of obesity and elevated body mass index in working-age people of color. They also found that higher minimum wages were associated with a lower likelihood of hypertension among working-age men but higher likelihood of hypertension in working-age women. Co-authors on the study were Dr. Jennifer Otten from the UW School of Public Health and Dr. Heather Hill from the UW Evans School of Public Policy & Governance.

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