Health at a Living Wage: Evidence from Natural Experiments

Project Summary

The goal of this project is to assess the effects of living wage (LW) policies on the health and wellbeing of low-income adults. The project team is leveraging natural experiments in LW policy adoption across metro areas in two population-based, longitudinal studies: the Community Tracking Study and the CARDIA (Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults) Cohort Study. The project will demonstrate the feasibility of placing health as a front-and-center objective for social and economic policy.

Research Question(s)

  • What are the effects of LW policies on material and psychological wellbeing, allostatic load biomarkers, health status, and health behaviors?
  • To what extent have LW effects persisted over time since implementation?
  • To what extent have LW effects varied by policy characteristics, including criteria for coverage of workers, health insurance offering, and implementation quality?


  • Inform municipal policy reforms (e.g., city-wide minimum wage) that are gaining significant traction across cities as a means to improve equity in living and working conditions for their populations.


Health & well-being: material and psychological well-being; allostatic load biomarkers; self-rated health status; BMI; and smoking, drinking, and dietary behavior

Other: Medical care access


Difference-in-difference-in-differences design to generate quasi-experimental, intention-to-treat estimates of LW policy effects.

A balanced scale with money on one side and a family on the other
Grantee and Partner organizations

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Northwestern University
Drexel University
University of Alabama at Birmingham

Grant status
Principal investigators
Mustafa Hussein, PhD
Start date
Award amount
24 months

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