What is one of the main causes that lead 800,000 people every year to take their own lives? Money.
According to a new study published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, every one dollar increase to the federal minimum wage accounts for a 3.4% to 5.9% decline in suicide rates in young adults. Collectively, this figure suggests 1,059 fewer suicides per year.
From the report: “Social welfare policies such as the minimum wage can affect population health, though the impact may differ by the level of unemployment experienced by society at a given time. Minimum wage increases appear to reduce the suicide rate among those with a high school education or less and may reduce disparities between socioeconomic groups. Effects appear greatest during periods of high unemployment.”
Minimum wages by unemployment rate on suicide in the USA
The report was staffed by monthly data gathered from all 50 states between 1990 and 2015. By analyzing unemployment trends and suicide statistics occurring during this 25-year span the authors were able to predict various outcomes under different fiscal scenarios.
Because Americans who only have a high school diploma are affected the most by unemployment and fluctuating minimum wages, the researchers decided to frame college-educated participants as the control group. In order to emphasize the magnitude of this purported effect, a distinction between federal and state wages was established. GPD and welfare take-up were also observed as control factors.
“We chose to express the minimum wage as the difference between the federal and state minimum wage for ease of interpretation. Due to the way the model is constructed, identical results would be found if we used the effective state minimum wage. It is incorrect to interpret the results as suggesting that reducing the federal minimum wage would result in fewer suicides. To the contrary, the results indicate that as minimum wages increase, suicide rates decrease,” Livingston explained to Dylan Mathews of VOX.
Knowing full well what the opposition would say of this report, the experts chose to employ a more harm than good thesis as opposed to intimating any kind of resolute solution to America’s suicide epidemic. The biggest consideration prescribing higher wage prescriptions for low wage earners is the fear that it will cause a sizable increase to job losses. And to be fair, there has been some evidence to support this concern.
In reaction to The Raise the Wage Act, The Congregational Budget Office determined that doubling the federal minimum wage to $15 will result in an estimated 1.3 billion in job losses by the year 2025.
The report explains: “Increasing the federal minimum wage would have two principal effects on low-wage workers. For most low-wage workers, earnings and family income would increase, which would lift some families out of poverty. But other low-wage workers would become jobless, and their family income would fall—in some cases, below the poverty threshold.”
If you recall, back in 2015 Seattle was one of the first cities to instate legislation that gradually raised the minimum wage to $16 an hour. A study conducted by the University of Washington not too long after concluded that this hike lead to fewer hours for employees in addition to fewer overall hires. However, not only did two followup studies from Berkley posit that higher wages positively contributed to company growth, they were unable to determine any substantial consequences of a higher federal wage.
Again, the aim of the newest report was to identify the ways in which wage hikes are ultimately beneficial to the citizens of our Country even in the event that the portended setbacks come to fruition. Previously published literature has effectively established a correlation between low-income earners and suicide time and time again. Most would agree that policymakers ought to decide they want to address the crisis more than they want to pacify the systems energizing it.
“Suicide is often associated with financial stressors such as job loss, debt or financial hardship, but less is known about how economic interventions such as minimum wage policies could ameliorate these risk factors. Suicide and depression disproportionately affect individuals with lower educational attainment and lower incomes. Individuals with less education are more likely to work at or near the minimum wage; among workers ages ≥16 years in 2017, 4% of those without a high school diploma were paid the federal minimum, compared with <1% of college graduates,” the study continues. “We detected significant effect modification by unemployment rate, with the largest effects of minimum wage on reducing suicides observed at higher unemployment levels.”