Effects of the Minimum Wage on Long-Term Child Health and Development

Despite efforts to rigorously analyze various effects of changes to minimum wages, the research community has largely neglected the link to child development. Changes in the minimum wage may have consequences that go far beyond employment and earnings, but there is almost nothing known about these potential effects.

Using data from National Longitudinal Survey of Youth and other publicly available datasets, the research team will investigate:

  1. The effects of the minimum wage on child development, including physical and mental health, socioemotional development, cognition, and standardized test scores. (The researchers will assess the effects of the minimum wage at different stages of childhood and examine both long- and short-term effects of minimum wage changes.)
  2. The effects of the minimum wage on several potential mechanisms linking the minimum wage to child outcomes including family income, parental health and health behaviors, parental time use (employment and time spent with child), family health insurance coverage, child’s use of health care services, school choices (private v. public) and residential stability.

If the minimum wage has significant, positive effects on child development, then it would be an important, and currently unrecognized, policy lever to improve children’s well-being and diminish socioeconomic disparities in child development.