The mental health benefits of raising the minimum wage

Back in November, we shared how Florida increased its minimum wage to $15 an hour. Now, the same minimum wage is being considered on the federal level. Breaking down the impacts of this change is beneficial for understanding why it is a solution. In addition to lower rates of poverty and higher standards of living, a higher minimum wage is also associated with improved mental health. Here are some of the ways it impacts society’s mental wellness. 

First, raising the minimum wage has been shown to lower suicide rates. As suicide rates have gone up during the pandemic, this factor is more important than ever. Research published in 2020 found that a minimum wage increase of just one dollar per hour can drop the suicide rate among working adults with a high school education by 3.4 to 5.9 percent. Increased financial security has a big impact on happiness, and raising the minimum wage can offer this to millions of Americans. 

It’s no surprise that there’s a correlation between mental health and minimum wage. Money doesn’t create happiness, but it does influence it, especially for a country’s poorest citizens. Financial security means more housing stability, healthier food options, reduced stress, more fulfilling free time, and the opportunity to give back more to one’s community.

One 2018 literature review found mental health and increased minimum wage were positively correlated in 3 of 4 high-quality studies. Furthermore, another 2011 study found that individuals making $20,000 or less annually were more likely to have mental health conditions, such as depression or anxiety. 

Some opponents of minimum wage increases argue that it will lead to job losses, but the steadily increasing cost of living, in addition to the demonstrated societal benefits and positive case studies from countries like Australia, makes for a strong argument in favor of a federally raised minimum wage. 

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