Effects of Minimum Wages on Absence from Work Due to Illness

Juan Du 1  and J. Paul Leigh 2
  • 1 Economics, Old Dominion University, Constant Hall 2034, Norfolk, USA
  • 2 Public Health, University of California, Davis, USA
Juan Du and J. Paul Leigh

Abstract

Using longitudinal data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics for 1997–2013 and difference-in-differences (DD) and difference-in-difference-in-differences (DDD) techniques, we estimate the effects of minimum wages on absence from work due to own and others’ (such as children’s) illnesses. We use person fixed effects within both linear and two-part models, the latter to explore changes at extensive and intensive margins. A lower educated group (likely affected by minimum wages) is compared with higher educated groups (likely unaffected). Within the lower educated group, we find higher minimum wages are associated with lower rates of absence due to own and others’ illness combined and due to own illness alone, but not associated with absence due to others’ illness. A $1 increase in the real minimum wage results in 19 % (in DD model) and 32 % (DDD) decreases in the absence rate due to own illness evaluated at the mean. These findings are strongest for persons who are not employed year-round and among the lowest wage earners. In additional analysis, we show that these effects are likely not due to changes in labor supply or job-related attributes. Instead, we find a possible mechanism: higher minimum wages improve self-reported health for lower educated workers.

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