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Raising The Minimum Wage Could Reduce Suicide Rates, Study Says



Raising the minimum wage for workers across the country, even by a modest amount, could have positive benefits that go beyond the economic realm — including reducing death by suicide numbers across the nation, according to a new study released this week.

Fast food workers and supporters protest in Herald Square to raise the minimum wage for fast food workers to $15 dollars an hour. The protest was organized by New York Communities for Change (Photo by James Leynse/Corbis via Getty Images)

A study from the National Bureau of Economic Research found that, among workers with a high school education or less, a 10 percent raise in the minimum wage could result in a reduction of the suicide rate by 3.6 percent among that group, according to reporting from CBS News.

For a worker who resides in a state where the federal minimum wage is applicable, the increase in their pay would be a small amount — less than $0.75 for a total of about $8 per hour. In states with higher minimum wages, a 10 percent raise would be higher, but not drastically so. Washington D.C., which currently has the highest rate of pay at $13.25 per hour, would see a jump of about $1.33 per hour if it raised its minimum wage by 10 percent, for instance.

D.C. is planning on raising its minimum wage by more than that amount anyway, going up to $15 per hour by the year 2020, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Raising the minimum wage wasn’t the only thing researchers looked into. A 10 percent increase in the Earned Income Tax Credit could actually reduce suicides even more than raising the minimum wage could, the study found, reducing the suicide rate by 5.5 percent, although the effects would be more delayed than an increase in wages would be.

Doing both, researchers said, could reduce the total number of suicides by 1,230 annually.

So-called “deaths of despair” — fatalities related to suicide, as well as alcohol and drug use — have been on the rise in recent years, especially among those without a college degree. The rise in these deaths is so significant that it has resulted in the life expectancy of the average American citizen to have decreased, according to PBS NewsHour.

Other research studies have yielded similar findings. Earlier this year, the University of North Carolina released the results of its own study into the minimum wage and its relationship to death by suicide.

According to a press release from UNC in March, “a one-dollar increase in the real minimum wage was associated on average with a 1.9 percent decrease in the annual state suicide rate.”



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