Higher Minimum Wage May Lead to Better Health According to New Study

Is it possible that there is a link between a higher minimum wage and workers making better health choices? A recent article by HR Dive editor, Valerie Bolden-Barrett that appeared on their website seems to suggest just that.

Researchers from the Stanford Center of Longevity & Fidelity Investments, which also worked with research obtained from professors from the University of California Davis, Old Dominion University and the University of Nevada, surveyed approximately 9000 workers from both the U.S. and the U.K. from 1995 to 2016. What they found was the following:

  • When workers received a wage hike of $1 per hour, smoking was reduced by 4%.

  • While many states and municipalities have raised the minimum wage across the country, business owners have balked. Some will cut the hours of full-time workers in order to avoid having to pay full-time wages to their current workers. This, according to the study, only leads to worker stress due to job demands and financial concerns.

  • The researchers found that when given a higher rate of pay, workers showed fewer bouts of depression, less unhealthy behaviors such as drinking, and resulted in fewer incidences of absenteeism.

  • Workers who got a raise for their work reported feeling less stress related to work and financial issues. This, in turn, made them more able to stay focused and on task and suffer from much less anxiety.

Bolden-Barrett asserts that when workers have more money to take home, they seem to, “experience a greater sense of well-being, which in turn can impact their health.” This, in turn, can lead to organizations spending less on providing healthcare for their workers. In the end, raising wages for workers could end up making businesses much more profitable for those organizations.

In general, companies that offer their workers not only wellness programs for health, but also financial wellness programs, counseling on how to understand their healthcare benefits and how to manage stress could see greater productivity in their current workforce.