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DPP Research Seminar: Living Wages Globally

Martin Kahanec
Wednesday, October 19, 2022, 1:30 pm – 3:00 pm

The living wage (LW) is based on the concept that work should provide a minimum decent standard of living for a family. It is not prescribed by any law and it cannot be legally enforced; instead, living wages can provide a benchmark for employers who voluntarily commit to pay wages according to the local living standards. Living wages can be family-, region- and time-specific and therefore they are calculated at a very granular level. Continuous data collection enables us to update LW information on the monthly basis. Despite the long-standing debates about decent pay, no common framework for calculating LWs exists. In cooperation with the WageIndicator Foundation we calculate LWs internationally. The calculation of living costs is based on Anker and Anker, 2017. We use our Cost-of-Living application specifically designed to gather the prices of items necessary to calculate the cost of living around the globe. Price surveys are also posted online on national WageIndicator websites. In some countries with low Internet access, price information is collected by interviewers visiting markets and supermarkets and interviewing people about prices. Since its introduction in 2014, information about several million prices has been gathered. This study describes our approach to calculating living wages and presents our global results, benchmarked to minimum wages.