A Higher Minimum Wage Could Lead To Better Health

Currently, four cities -- including San Francisco and Los Angeles -- and the state of New York have plans to raise their minimum wage to $15 an hour over the next few years. Other cities across the country, surely, will follow. And while the argument over whether or not a nationwide minimum wage hike should be instituted is set to become a hugely divisive point in the upcoming elections, the reality is that sooner or later, we're going to get a minimum wage hike.

The biggest question confronting most folks who won't have their own wages increased -- which is to say, most of the workers in America -- is "how is this going to affect me?" A new study from Purdue has a few answers.


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The most widely-cited result from the study is that the prices at fast food restaurants -- which are referred to as "limited service restaurants" in the literature -- will increase by 4.3 percent. If you want a real-world example of that, basically take the various Dollar Menu items available at the assortment of fast food joints and add a nickel to them. That's very feasible!

(The study also says that bumping up the minimum wage to $22 an hour would raise the average price by 25 percent.)

But, to me, what's most interesting about the study is this note towards the end of the summary, pointing out that restaurants may try to counter the cost associated with the higher minimum wage by maintaining the same price and shrink the amount of food they're offering instead:

The other way to look at this if you don't want to raise the prices is to examine the impact on product size. As expected, a hamburger would be much smaller.

This is a good thing.

The hike may be an inadvertent "life hack" to provide the country with more appropriate food portions. If fast food companies lower the portion size on their fries and sodas, and maybe stop the culture of just throwing any damn thing on a bun, well, that's only good news.

Americans have a difficult time controlling their eating habits. Paying an extra few nickels per transaction to help us with portion control is more than worth it.

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