Early results of a natural experiment evaluating the effects of a local minimum wage policy on the diet-related health of low-wage workers, 2018-2020

Caitlin E. Caspi, Maria Fernanda Gombi-Vaca, Julian Wolfson, Lisa J. Harnack, Molly De Marco, Rebekah Pratt, Thomas Durfee, Samuel L. Myers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: The current study presents results of a midpoint analysis of an ongoing natural experiment evaluating the diet-related effects of the Minneapolis Minimum Wage Ordinance, which incrementally increases the minimum wage to $15/h. Design: A difference-in-difference (DiD) analysis of measures collected among low-wage workers in two U.S. cities (one city with a wage increase policy and one comparison city). Measures included employment-related variables (hourly wage, hours worked and non-employment assessed by survey questions with wages verified by paystubs), BMI measured by study scales and stadiometers and diet-related mediators (food insecurity, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participation and daily servings of fruits and vegetables, whole-grain rich foods and foods high in added sugars measured by survey questions). Setting: Minneapolis, Minnesota and Raleigh, North Carolina. Participants: A cohort of 580 low-wage workers (268 in Minneapolis and 312 in Raleigh) who completed three annual study visits between 2018 and 2020. Results: In DiD models adjusted for time-varying and non-time-varying confounders, there were no statistically significant differences in variables of interest in Minneapolis compared with Raleigh. Trends across both cities were evident, showing a steady increase in hourly wage, stable BMI, an overall decrease in food insecurity and non-linear trends in employment, hours worked, SNAP participation and dietary outcomes. Conclusion: There was no evidence of a beneficial or adverse effect of the Minimum Wage Ordinance on health-related variables during a period of economic and social change. The COVID-19 pandemic and other contextual factors likely contributed to the observed trends in both cities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2573-2585
Number of pages13
JournalPublic health nutrition
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 7 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s), 2023. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of The Nutrition Society.


  • COVID-19
  • Food insecurity
  • Minimum wage
  • Policy evaluation
  • Social determinants of health


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