Income support programs save lives and promote health

Published on December 16, 2020

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Policies for Action program has released new research that shows how income support programs do more than just reduce income inequality – they also improve health and health equity, making them more critical than ever in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

George Wehby and Edith Parker at the 2019 Distinguished Faculty LectureGeorge Wehby, UI professor of health management and policy, was co-principal investigator of one of the studies that examined the effects of a minimum wage on child health.

Key findings from the studies include:

  • Increasing both the minimum wage and Earned Income Tax Credits (EITCs) by 10% would likely prevent over 700 suicides each year.
  • Increased childhood exposure to the EITC is associated with improved self-reported health and reduced obesity rates in adulthood.
  • A $1,000 increase in the maximum available EITC is associated with a 4% – 4.7% reduction in the likelihood that mothers report poor mental health days in the past month.
  • A $1 increase in the minimum wage over the first five years of is associated with a 10% increase in the probability the child is in excellent health.
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI) had a positive impact on the health of children with disabilities and reduced Medicaid costs. It resulted in 30 percent lower Medicaid expenditures through age 8.

Learn more and check out the studies.