Minimum wage laws are a promising policy lever to promote health equity, but few rigorous evaluations have tested whether and how minimum wage policy affects health outcomes. This paper describes an ongoing difference-in-difference study evaluating the health effects of the 2017 Minneapolis Minimum Wage Ordinance, which incrementally increases the minimum wage to $15/hr. We present: (1) the conceptual model guiding the study including mediating mechanisms, (2) the study design, (3) baseline findings from the study, and (4) the analytic plan for the remainder of the study. This prospective study follows a cohort of 974 low-wage workers over four years to compare outcomes among low-wage workers in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and those in a comparison city (Raleigh, North Carolina). Mea-sures include height/weight, employment paystubs, two weeks of food purchase receipts, and a survey capturing data on participant demographics, health behaviors, and household finances. Baseline findings offer a profile of individuals likely to be affected by minimum wage laws. While the study is ongoing, the movement to increase local and state minimum wage is currently high on the policy agenda; evidence is needed to determine what role, if any, such policies play in improving the health of those affected.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The WAGE$ study is funded by the National Institutes of Health and follows a cohort of low-wage workers to evaluate the health effects of the Minneapolis Minimum Wage Ordinance, which incrementally increases minimum wage to $15 using a phased implementation. Workers likely to be affected by the ordinance in Minneapolis, Minnesota (MN), and those in a comparison city (Raleigh, North Carolina (NC)), were enrolled in the study in 2018 and are being followed over four years, in which minimum wage will increase from $10 to $15 for large business and from $7.75 to $13.50 among small businesses in Minneapolis. Unlike the quasi-experimental research design in a number of recent minimum wage studies based on publicly available data (Andreyeva and Ukert, 2018; Wehby et al., 2016) this study was designed around the implementation of the minimum wage legislation in one of the two matched samples. This study is among the first to collect rigorous individual-level measures of wages, obesity, and potential confounding, moderating, and mediating variables.
This research was supported by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases of the National Institutes of Health (1R01DK118664-01); NIH grant UL1TR002494 from the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) supported data management. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health. Funding agencies had no role in the design, analysis or writing of this article.
© Caitlin Caspi and the WAGE$ Study Team.
- Minimum wage