Income support programs do more than reduce income inequality—they also save lives and promote health equity

12.14.2020
Commentary
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To help people make ends meet, the United States offers a set of income supports for families with low-incomes, children, seniors and people with disabilities. Recent research from Policies for Action found these income support programs do more than reduce income inequality—they also save lives and promote health equity, particularly for women and children.  Key findings:

  • Increasing both the minimum wage and the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) by 10% would likely prevent over 700 suicides each year. 
  • Increased childhood exposure to the EITC is associated with improved self-reported health and reduced obesity rates in adulthood. 
  • A $1,000 increase in the maximum available EITC is associated with a 4% - 4.7% reduction in the likelihood of mothers reporting poor mental health days in the past month. 
  • A $1 increase in the minimum wage over the first five years of life is associated with a 10% increase in the probability the child is in excellent health. 
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI) had a positive impact on the health of children with disabilities and reduced Medicaid costs. It resulted in 30 percent lower Medicaid expenditures through age 8. 

As the country responds to the pandemic-driven recession, this research provides the needed evidence to ensure income support policies are preserved and expanded to both increase income and improve health equity and well-being.

Read More About the Research:

Can Economic Policies Reduce Deaths of Despair?
Principal Investigator: 
William H. DowUniversity of California, Berkeley

Credit Where It's Due: Investigating Pathways from EITC Expansion to Maternal Mental Health
Principal Investigators:
Lisa DubayUrban Institute
Laudan AronUrban Institute

Effects of Minimum Wage on Child Health
Principal Investigators:
George WehbyDepartment of Health Management and Policy, University of Iowa
Robert KaestnerHarris School of Public Policy, University of Chicago

The Long-term Effects of Childhood Exposures to the Earned Income Tax Credit on Health Outcomes
Principal Investigators:
Lisa DubayUrban Institute
Laudan AronUrban Institute 

The Effects of Income on Children's Health: Evidence from Supplemental Security Income Eligibility Under NY State Medicaid
Principal Investigator:
Sherry GliedNew York University, Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service

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