Roughly 130,000 working Coloradan parents and their children live in poverty. Research affirms that living in poverty causes decreased physical and emotional well-being. Children in low-income families have higher levels of depression and antisocial behavior and are less likely to succeed in school and throughout their lifetime.
A 2012 study in Psychological Science found that children growing up in poverty experience increased “allostatic load,” a biological measure of chronic stress on the body. Fortunately, research also shows that increasing parental income can over time help reverse the deleterious mental, emotional and behavioral impacts of poverty on children.
This is one of the many reasons why I support Amendment 70 to increase Colorado’s minimum wage to $12 by 2020. New research published in the August 2016 issue of the American Journal of Public Health gives “evidence that increased state minimum wages are associated with reduced low birth weight births and reduced postneonatal infant deaths.”
The authors found that increasing minimum wage by just one dollar across all states in 2014 would likely have resulted in almost 2,800 fewer low birth weight births and over 500 fewer deaths within the first 28-364 days of life, in that year alone.
Low birth weight resulting from low incomes is not only a significant predictor of infant mortality, but increases people’s chance of economic and health issues into adulthood. Low-income adults are more likely to be sick and die earlier than higher-income individuals – a fact that should not be taken lightly.
Our society relies on the social contributions of low wage labor, yet we do not dignify the work and worth of every human being by enabling people to earn a wage they can live on. Despite worker productivity increasing over the last three decades, low-wage workers’ pay has stagnated. The minimum wage should not be a poverty wage. In fact, this defeats the original purpose of minimum wage policy to keep hard-working Americans out of poverty.
Vote “Yes” on Amendment 70 to increase Colorado’s minimum wage to $12 by 2020 and give all individuals a chance to succeed.