Mental illnesses are one of the great plagues of mankind. They are the largest cause of disability in the world and responsible for countless suicides. In the U.S., there is bipartisan recognition that, in Senator Chris Murphy’s words, “Mental health care in America is in desperate need of an overhaul.” But even reform efforts with wide spread support face the usual obstacles: What’s the most effective path, and who should pay for it?
A new study suggests a simpler, less costly approach to improving mental health on a massive scale: raise the minimum wage.
In 1998, Britain passed the National Minimum Wage Act, which created a minimum wage of £3.60 ($7.35 in current U.S. dollars) and resulted in about a 30 percent raise for the typical worker below that threshold. That law, British economist Aaron Reeves and his colleagues report in Health Economics, substantially improved the mental health of low-wage earners “by reducing financial strain in low-wage workers.”
– New Republic