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Study: Increasing Minimum Wage Would Reduce Child Neglect Cases

Increasing the minimum wage would likely reduce the number of child neglect cases. That’s according to a new study co-authored by Lindsey Bullinger, a PhD candidate at Indiana University’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs.

The research shows that raising the minimum wage by one dollar reduces the rate of neglect by nearly 10 percent. Bullinger says the increase in income makes a difference.

“They are better able to provide kind of some necessities for their kids, things like medical care, things like clothing and food,” Bullinger says.

The study compared the child abuse and neglect rate of children who live in states that changed minimum wage laws during a specific time period. That was then compared to neglect rates for states that didn’t change their laws.

Bullinger says children living in low-income families are more likely to experience child abuse and neglect than their peers in higher income families.

Raising Indiana’s minimum wage has not been a priority in recent legislative sessions. Some lawmakers have called for a change. It’s a contentious debate, and some question what it would mean for businesses.

But Bullinger says minimum wage is just one tool of many that the government can use to improve economic stability for families.

“So our research supports the idea that strengthening economic supports for families can have substantial benefits for children, for their health and for their well-being,” Bullinger says.

Currently, the federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour, and has been so since 2009. More than half of U.S. states have a higher minimum wage than the federal minimum wage. Indiana is not among them.

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