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Project Title

A Natural Experiment Evaluating the Effect of a Minimum Wage Increase on Obesity and Diet-Related Outcome (The WAGE$ Study)

Funding Dates



Logo for the Wages study

University of Minnesota and UNC-Chapel Hill researchers are collaborating to investigate the association between an increased local minimum wage and health and wellness. A 2018 Minneapolis ordinance requires large employers to gradually increase their minimum wages to $15 per hour by 2022 and small employers to do so by 2024. The minimum wage in North Carolina is currently $7.25. The study is following a cohort of 495 low-wage workers in Minneapolis, Minnesota and 479 low-wage workers in Raleigh, N.C. Researchers are evaluating each of the participants’ food receipts, pay stubs, survey results, height, weight, and other indicators of their overall health at the beginning of the study (baseline) and after each annual wage increase for a total of five years.

Research Areas 

Cardiovascular Health, Obesity, and Diabetes
Health Equity
Nutrition and Physical Activity

Principal Investigator

Molly De Marco, PhD, MPH


National Institutes of Health and the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health at the University of Minnesota


More about the WAGE$ study from HPDP’s Food, Fitness, and Opportunity Research Collaborative
More about the WAGE$ study on the University of Minnesota website