U of M Medical School Researchers to Explore $15 Minimum Wage Hike’s Health Impact

The study will be the first to approach the issue beyond direct economic effects.

U of M Medical School Researchers to Explore $15 Minimum Wage Hike’s Health Impact
Researchers at the University of Minnesota Medical School will be conducting a study on the impact of increased minimum wages but will look at it from a perspective never before tapped into.
Instead of focusing on the direct economic effect, they will explore the impact higher minimum wage has on health components. It will follow members of low-wage workers as they gradually experience the impact of the increase in real-time, according to a university press release.
The announcement of the impending study comes just months before Minneapolis implements a $15 an hour minimum wage requirement – it will be the 40th jurisdiction in the country to do so.
"Given the known connection between income and health, it could be that a policy like minimum wage has cascading effects on multiple health outcomes,” said Caitlin Caspi, assistant professor of family medicine and community health at the University of Minnesota Medical School, in a statement. “This is a discussion that is happening not just in the state but across the county. It is also somewhat unique for a medical school to be leading this discussion.”
Researchers will note the post-wage-change body weight, food purchases, food assistance program participation, and a variety of other financial and health behaviors. They will compare those data points to the same information gathered from a group of 450 workers in Raleigh, North Carolina, which does not have a wage increase planned. University researchers will obtain baseline measurements before the wage law goes into effect July 1 this year.
"I think this is going to be a very rich data set which will yield some important and perhaps complex results. We want to make sure that the 5 years of data we are collecting are shared with stakeholders directly affected by the minimum wage ordinance," said Caspi.
Results from the University team’s health-focused study will be utilized in context with an economic analysis to be conducted for the City of Minneapolis by the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. The University study will be made possible by National Institutes of Health and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease funding.
“Minneapolis is serving as a leader for other communities,” said Caspi, “by looking carefully at the effects of the type of policy that is most likely to improve community health and to close socioeconomic and racial/ethnic gaps in health.”
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