Emory University | Woodruff Health Sciences Center
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Linking minimum wage & infant mortality

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Raising the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour by just $1 could save a lot of babies’ lives. A new study found that a $1 minimum wage increase above the current federal level could have prevented an estimated 3,000 low-weight births and 500 post-neonatal deaths in 2014.

Researchers looked at minimum wages and birth outcomes in 50 states over three decades. They found that states that increased the minimum wage $1 above the federal level had a 4% decrease in infant deaths and a 1% to 2% drop in low birth-weight babies.

“The annual social and health cost of preterm or low-weight births in the U.S. was at least $26.2 billion in 2005. The pain and suffering from the deaths of so many infants in their first year of life are incalculable,” says Kelli Komro, professor of behavioral sciences and health education and lead author of the study. “Minimum wage laws not only help lower-income families make ends meet, they also appear to influence important infant health outcomes.”

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