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UC Davis study links low wages with hypertension, especially for women and younger workers
Date:1/3/2013

Policymakers can raise the minimum wage, which tends to increase wages overall and could have significant public-health benefits."

In conducting the study, the team used data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, a highly regarded database in social science. This longitudinal, representative study of families in the United States includes information on wages, employment and health, including hypertension status. The team used information from a total of 5,651 household heads and their spouses for three time periods: 1999-2001, 2001-03 and 2003-05. The sample was limited to working adults between 25 and 65 years of age. Anyone with hypertension during the first year (e.g., 1999) of each time period was eliminated from the final sample.

Wages were calculated as annual income from all sources divided by work hours and ranged from about $2.38 to $77 per hour in 1999 dollars. Hypertension was determined by respondents' self-reports of a hypertension diagnosis from their physicians.

The team used logistic regressions for the statistical analysis, and found that doubling the wage was associated with a 16 percent decrease in the risk of a hypertension diagnosis. Doubling the wage reduced the risk of a hypertension diagnosis by 1.2 percent over two years and 0.6 percent for one year.

"That means that if there were 110 million persons employed in the U.S. between the ages of 25 and 65 per year during the entire timeframe of the study -- from 1999 until 2005 -- then a 10 percent increase in everyone's wages would have resulted in 132,000 fewer cases of hypertension each year," said Leigh.

Additional logistic regression analyses by demographics such as age, gender, race and co-morbidities such as obesity, diabetes and alcohol consumption revealed two standout outcomes. Being in the youngest age group -- between 25 and 44 years old -- or being female were strong predictors of hypertension. In fact, doubling the wages of youn
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Contact: Karen Finney
karen.finney@ucdmc.ucdavis.edu
916-734-9064
University of California - Davis Health System
Source:Eurekalert

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