TUESDAY, Aug. 29, 2022 (HealthDay News) — State laws that preempt local authority to enact health-promoting legislation, like raising the minimum wage or mandating paid sick leave, may contribute to increased workforce mortality, according to a study published online Aug. 29 in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Douglas A. Wolf, Ph.D., from Syracuse University in New York, and colleagues examined how state preemption laws that prohibit local authority to raise the minimum wage or mandate paid sick leave have contributed to working-age mortality from suicide, homicide, drug overdose, alcohol poisoning, and transport accidents. The analysis included county-by-quarter death counts by cause and sex for 1999 to 2019.

The researchers found that paid sick-leave requirements were associated with lower mortality. Among men, this association was statistically significant for suicide and homicide deaths and for homicide and alcohol-related deaths among women. In large central metropolitan counties currently constrained by preemption laws, mortality could decline by more than 5 percent if counties were able to mandate a 40-hour annual paid sick-leave requirement.

“The consequences of preemption laws are potentially profound,” the authors write. “They stymie local government innovation, constrain opportunities to earn a living wage and take time off from work for medical care without financial repercussions, elevate the risks of death among infants and working-age adults, and contribute to geographic disparities in mortality.”

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