From Cradle to Grave: The Effects of Income Policies on Health and Well-Being
*Names in bold indicate Presenter
Economic security and the ability to meaningfully participate in the economy are vital to individual, family, and population health and well-being. Yet for many workers, low wages and lack of income support policies put them at risk for poor health outcomes. Wealth and health are intricately linked, and a more nuanced understanding of these connections is key to expanding people’s opportunity to achieve good health.
This panel draws from the latest cross-sector research investigating the health impacts of some of the most important policy levers for raising incomes for low-wage workers and their families: the living wage, minimum wage, and the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).
Using the restricted access geocoded CDC Multiple Causes of Death data, the first paper leverages state variation in minimum wage levels and EITC policies to examine drug overdose deaths and suicides. This is the first causal study on the effects of these policies on premature mortality. The second paper uses data from the Vital Statistics covering all births from 1983-2015 to investigate how minimum wage policies impact childbearing decisions. The last paper evaluates living wage policy impacts on low-income adult physical and mental health outcomes.
Together, these papers provide important clues to the extent to which income support policies can be used to improve health. As policymakers and other decisionmakers seek to improve population health and advance health equity, this research underscores the growing understanding that non-health policy levers are important tools for accomplishing these goals.