Supporting a higher minimum wage to promote public health: Letter

The field of public health increasingly recognizes the role of social determinants such as poverty, low incomes, low education and inequality in leading to negative public health outcomes. Much research shows associations between these factors and higher rates of cardio-vascular disease, obesity, diabetes, cancer and premature births, among others.

Several pathways are involved with one being the impacts of chronic, acute stress.

Earning more income helps to promote more economic security and correspondingly, less stress from economic precariousness. Improving the earnings of low-wage workers helps incentivize work and give more hope for upward social mobility — for both men and women.

The low earnings of women in Louisiana are an important social issue, and since women comprise 62 percent of Louisianians who would benefit from an increase in the minimum wage, such an increase would contribute to lessening gender inequality — as well as promoting economic security.

The field of public health works to prevent negative health outcomes that are medically costly as well as impairments to the health and longevity of individuals and families. A higher minimum wage in Louisiana can be an important step in contributing to better quality of life and health outcomes — and, correspondingly, lower medical costs in this state.

We urge Louisiana’s elected officials to enact a minimum wage of $10.10 (with an annual cost-of-living adjustment) not only for the economic multiplier benefits others have cited but also for needed better health outcomes in this state.

Phyllis Raabe

Katherine Theall

Mary Amelia Women’s Center

Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine

New Orleans

Click here for the on-line letter