The Impact of Minimum Wage Mandate on Body Weight: Evidence from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System: 1984-2005
Posted: 22 Jun 2007
The declining real minimum wage was accompanied with an increasing trend of obesity in the United States. To investigate how minimum wage mandate is related to the obesity epidemic, we estimated its effect on body weight using data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS). We estimated the association between real minimum wage and bodyweight among BRFSS respondents using the whole sample and sub-samples by gender group. The continuous measure of body mass index and a binary indicator of obesity are used as dependent variables in the linear regression models we chose. Robust standard errors are estimated to control for the serial correlation and strata structure. We found that real minimum wage is negatively associated with the body mass index and probability of being obese in the whole sample and the male sample. However, the relationship is not statistically significant among the female sample. An increase in minimum wage of one dollar would result in an average reduction of 0.037 in BMI and 0.3% in the probability of being obese. The declining real minimum wage is associated with the increasing rate of overweight and obesity in the United States. Changes in minimum wage mandate may have profound health effects among low income population, which have been largely untouched in the previous literature.
Keywords: Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, minimum wage, obesity
JEL Classification: I12, I18, J18
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