Published this month in the American Journal of Public Health, a new study found that if $15 had been New York City’s minimum wage from 2008 to 2012, 2,800 to 5,500 premature deaths could have been averted, with the bulk of such avoided deaths occurring in low-income communities. To conduct the study, researchers used U.S. Census data to calculate how the proportion of low-income residents in each New York City neighborhood might have changed under a $15 minimum wage and then created an ecological model of premature death to determine how a hypothetical wage hike would have impacted mortality rates. (There is a wealth of scientific literature on the associations between income, health and life expectancy — here’s just one of the more recent ones from JAMA that found “higher income was associated with greater longevity.”)
…Under the optimistic scenario, the study estimated that a $15 minimum wage would reduce New York City’s premature death rates by as much as 15 per 100,000 people. That translates to about 5,500 fewer premature deaths between 2008 and 2012, which is about 8 percent of total premature deaths in the city during that time period. In the pessimistic scenario, a wage hike would reduce the premature death rate by nearly 8 per 100,000, which would mean 2,800 fewer premature deaths and 4 percent of total premature deaths during the study period. Most of the avoided mortality would happen in the city’s low-income neighborhoods, “contributing to a narrowing of health inequities across the city,” researchers wrote.
And a higher minimum wage would lower infant mortality as well (boldface mine):
Published last week in the American Journal of Public Health, the study examined the impact of state-based minimum wage laws on the rate of babies born with low birth weights as well as on post-neonatal mortality, which is the death of an infant within the first year of life. To conduct the study, researchers analyzed state-level minimum wages in all 50 states from 1980 though 2011 as well as infant health data from the National Vital Statistics System. They then estimated the impact of minimum wage on infant health outcomes using a difference-in-differences approach, which allows researchers to control for other factors that might influence newborn health….
…In tracking more than 200 changes in state-level minimum wages over 31 years, they found that a $1 increase in the state wage above the federal minimum was associated with a 1 to 2 percent decrease in low birth weight births as well as a 4 percent decrease in post-neonatal deaths. That means if all states had bumped up their minimum wages by $1 in 2014, it may have prevented nearly 2,800 low birth weight births and more than 500 infant deaths in that year alone, the study found.
Keep in mind that the first study estimated the possible (though I think vastly overstated) job loss effects of minimum wage increases. Across the U.S., that’s thousands of premature deaths per year, so the Walton family, among other assholes, can have higher profits.
Oddly enough, while ‘crime’ and national security (TEH TERRORISMZ!!) are important issues, premature death, healthy pregnancies and lower child mortality among poor people are not.