William H. Dow, Anna Godøy, Christopher Lowenstein, Michael Reich, Can Labor Market Policies Reduce Deaths of Despair?, Journal of Health Economics, Volume 74, 2020, 102372, ISSN 0167-6296, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jhealeco.2020.102372.
Do minimum wages and the EITC mitigate rising “deaths of despair?” We leverage state variation in these policies over time to estimate event study and difference-in-differences models of deaths due to drug overdose, suicide, and alcohol-related causes. Our causal models find no significant effects on drug or alcohol-related mortality, but do find significant reductions in nondrug suicides. A 10 percent minimum wage increase reduces non-drug suicides among loweducated adults by 2.7 percent; the comparable EITC figure is 3.0 percent. Placebo tests and event-study models support our causal research design. Increasing both policies by 10 percent
would likely prevent a combined total of more than 700 suicides each year.