A Nationwide Investigation of the Effects of the Tipped Worker Subminimum Wage on Infant Size for Gestational Age

Sarah Andrea
Julia Goodman, OHSU-PSU School of Public Health
Miguel Marino, Oregon Health & Science University
Lynne Messer, The Ohio State University
Janne Boone-Heinonen, The Ohio State University

Tipped workers, primarily women of reproductive-age, can be paid a “subminimum wage” that is 71% lower than the federal minimum wage, contributing to economic hardship. Utilizing unconditional quantile regression and difference-in-differences analysis of data from 2004-2016 Vital Statistics Natality Files, linked to state-level wage laws, census, and antipoverty policy data, we estimated the effect of increasing the subminimum wage on birthweight standardized for gestational age (BWz). Smallest and largest infants are defined as those in the 5th and 95th BWz percentiles, respectively. When compared to a static wage of $2.13 for the duration of the study period, wage set to 100% of the federal minimum ($5.15-$7.25) was associated with an increase in BWz of 0.039 (95% CI: 0.033, 0.044) for the smallest infants and a decrease by 0.051 (95% CI: -0.058,-0.045) for the largest infants. Increasing the subminimum wage may be one strategy to promote healthier birthweight in infants.

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 Presented in Session 5. Health & Mortality 1