Effects of the Minimum Wage on Infant and Child Health

Speaker: Dhaval Dave

Date: October 27th

Time: 10 AM – 12 PM

Location: Health Sciences Building (155 College Street, Toronto ON), Room HS 108


The minimum wage has increased in multiple states over the past three decades. Research has focused on effects on labor supply, but very little is known about how the minimum wage affects health, including children’s health. We address this knowledge gap and provide an investigation focused on examining the impact of the effective state minimum wage rate on infant health. Using data on the entire universe of births in the US over 25 years, we find that an increase in the minimum wage is associated with an increase in birth weight driven by increased gestational length and fetal growth rate. The effect size is meaningful and plausible. We also find evidence of an increase in prenatal care use and a decline in smoking during pregnancy, which are some channels through which minimum wage can affect infant health. Labor market policies that enhance wages can thus affect wellbeing in broader ways, and such health effects should enter into any cost-benefit calculus of such policies.

Dhaval Dave is Stanton Research Professor of Economics at Bentley University, Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), and Research Fellow at the Institute of Labor Economics (IZA). His research focuses on the analysis of public policy and on the economics of behavioral health and human capital. Dr. Dave is currently studying the market for electronic cigarettes, prescription drug abuse, welfare reform and inter-generational effects, broader effects of minimum wage policy, and interventions within the juvenile justice system and their effects on recidivism and education. Dhaval’s research has been supported by the National Institute for Health, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, and various foundations. He has been published in leading peer-reviewed academic journals, and has been cited in congressional testimony, White House reports, and in the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, and other popular media. Dr. Dave received his Ph.D. from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, followed by a Postdoctoral Research Fellowship at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

Draft paper