How Does the Minimum Wage Affect Child Maltreatment and Parenting Behaviors? An Analysis of the Mechanisms
42 Pages Posted: 21 Oct 2020
Date Written: August 17, 2020
Children in low socioeconomic status (SES) families are five times more likely to experience child maltreatment relative to children in high SES families. To determine whether increasing the wages of working poor families can prevent maltreatment, we examine whether changes in the local minimum wage (MW) affect child well-being and parenting behaviors. Using data from a representative, longitudinal survey, we use a lagged dependent variable model to compare parenting behaviors in localities where the MW changed to localities where the MW did not change relative to before the MW change took place. We also explore heterogeneity by child’s age and a variety of potential mechanisms. We find that increasing the minimum wage reduces spanking by both mothers and fathers, as well as physical and psychological aggression by mothers. These results appear to be driven by changes in maternal employment; whereby mothers reduce their employment and change their weekend shifts. We find no significant effects for positive parenting behaviors, household income, or maternal mental health. Finally, older children exhibit fewer externalizing behaviors as a result of increases in the minimum wage. The results of this study help inform the conversation about income supports and employment policies with regard to their effects and pathways to child well-being.
Keywords: child well-being, child abuse and neglect, minimum wage, income-supports
JEL Classification: I31, J13, I14, I18
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation