Indiana University SPEA Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy University of Pennsylvania AIR American University

Panel Paper: The Impact of Increases in the Minimum Wage on Food Security: A Regression Discontinuity Approach

Thursday, November 12, 2015 : 10:15 AM
Japengo (Hyatt Regency Miami)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

William McKinley Rodgers, Heldrich Center for Workforce Development
This paper estimates the extent to which increases in state and federal minimum wages from 1995 to 2011 improved U.S. food security. Using a regression discontinuity framework, I show that the increases raise food security, particularly among nonwhite, less-educated, and single parent households. I show that an increase in the minimum wage enables households to worry less about meeting their food needs, maintain a supply of food, reduce their reliance on low-cost food, and to afford balanced meals. In addition, adults are able to make fewer sacrifices to their diet and food intake.

The paper’s findings suggest a dynamic where a modest increase in the minimum wage helps households the greatest who are on the threshold of achieving food security. A modest increase in the minimum wage provides “Low Security” households the needed assistance. However, to significantly reduce “Very-Low Security”, I conclude that policy makers must either implement larger increases in the minimum wage, or continue with modest increases but aggressively accompany them with fiscal policies such as the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and accommodative monetary policy.

Full Paper: