The Impact of Increased Minimum Wage on Child Neglect Varies by Developmental Age of Child
Children in poverty are at significantly greater risk of experiencing child maltreatment. Family economic security policies, such as minimum wage laws, offer a promising prevention strategy to support low-income families. This study utilized data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study, a longitudinal birth cohort study, to examine the effect of changes in state-specific minimum wage laws on maternal self-reported child maltreatment and material hardship as it varies by developmental age of the child. A series of fixed effects models with an interaction between the minimum wage and the age of the focal child were used to estimate if there was variation by developmental period of the impact of minimum wage laws on the following outcome variables: all domains of child maltreatment, maternal work-related stress, reported material hardship, aggravation in parenting, and maternal depression. Results revealed significant effects of increased minimum wage on maternal self-reported child neglect and material hardship when children are 3 years of age, and this relationship became non-significant as children aged. No effect was observed by age for other forms of child maltreatment nor any other outcome variables. Study findings suggest minimum wage laws may have differential effects on child neglect depending on the developmental period in which they are received.