NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
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Christopher A. Lowenstein

E-Mail: EmailAddress: hidden: you can email any NBER-related person as first underscore last at nber dot org
Institutional Affiliation: University of California, Berkeley

NBER Working Papers and Publications

April 2019Can Economic Policies Reduce Deaths of Despair?
with William H. Dow, Anna Godøy, Michael Reich: w25787
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 non-drug suicides. A 10 percent minimum wage increase reduces non-drug suicides among low-educated 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.
 
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