William H. Dow is Interim Dean and the Kaiser Permanente Professor of Health Policy and Management at the University of California, Berkeley’s School of Public Health. He also directs the UC Berkeley Center on the Economics and Demography of Aging. Dow’s research analyzes economic aspects of health behaviors and health and demographic outcomes. This includes work and family health studies on health reform, paid leave, and other employment-related income and benefits policies. Honors include the Kenneth J. Arrow Award given by the International Health Economics Association. He is also a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research, and previously served as senior economist for health at the White House Council of Economic Advisers. Dow holds a PhD in economics from Yale University.
William H. Dow
In 2017, economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton coined the phrase “deaths of despair” to describe a troubling rise of Americans dying from suicide, drugs (including opioids) and alcoholism. Experts across the country are now attempting to tease apart the complex factors driving these trends, but until now, no one has examined the potentially causal effects of decreases in real minimum wages in relation to this trend or the potential benefits of rising minimum wages in counteracting other drivers of this trend, despite a strong evidence base linking income and health.
Transfers and work supports such as the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) increase family resources, and may enable households to make critical investments in their members’ health and human capital. Yet not all eligible households claim this tax credit, losing out on income support that can have potentially large effects on health, education, and other dimensions of well-being of family members.
Research has shown the crucial importance of household income in shaping child health, but we have limited understanding of the actual health impacts of high profile income-related policies such as the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). Furthermore, state-level initiatives in this domain are particularly active and promising for future innovation. In this study, the research team will first investigate the multi-dimensional child health effects of state EITC expansions.
Since 2004, California’s state disability insurance program has provided six weeks of parental leave at 55 percent pay (in addition to typically 6-8 weeks of postpartum disability leave for biological mothers, also at 55 percent pay). However, many parents—especially those of lower-income—cannot afford to take this bonding leave at only partial pay. San Francisco’s new Paid Parental Leave Ordinance (PPLO) addresses this issue by requiring San Francisco employers to supplement up to 100% pay for six weeks of parental bonding leave.
Many hourly workers, especially in the retail sector, contend with unstable and unpredictable work schedules in which the number of hours, the days of the week, and the times of day that they work vary substantially from week to week. This chronic instability is likely to negatively affect workers and could also have spillover effects for children.
In a new issue brief examining the 2017 San Francisco Paid Parental Leave Ordinance, Julia M. Goodman, William H. Dow and Holly Elser find little evidence that implementing new paid family leave policies or expanding existing policies negatively affects employers.
William H. Dow, Anna Godoey, Christopher Lowenstein and Michael Reich released a National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper investigating whether “deaths of despair” respond to two key policies that raise incomes for low-wage workers: the minimum wage and the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).