Congratulations to Jennifer Karas Montez, Doug Wolf and Shannon Monnat on their recently awarded grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation for a project entitled “Local Initiatives, State Preemption, and Public Health.”
The aim of this project is to elucidate for which demographic groups, and in which types of communities, state preemption policies have facilitated or undermined the creation of healthier more equitable lives and communities. Using county-level health data from multiple sources and rigorous causal analysis methods, we will identify links between two domains of state preemption laws – labor/economic resources (minimum wages; paid leave) and the physical environment (hydraulic fracking; pesticide use) – and several infant and adult health outcomes that are likely to exhibit near-term responses to preemption exposure. We will address three research questions: (1) To what extent do state preemption laws influence birth outcomes and working-age adult health behaviors and mortality from external causes? (2) For which demographic and geographic subgroups does preemption have disproportionate consequences? (3) Does preemption reduce or expand local inequities in birth outcomes and adult health? We will disseminate our findings through multiple academic, cross-sector, and public channels and make publicly available the preemption database that we will compile. By addressing a time-sensitive and rapidly-escalating upstream driver of health and its impact on social and geographic health inequities, we anticipate that the findings from this project will have significant, widespread, and enduring implications for population health levels and inequities.