Living Wage

DEFINITION of 'Living Wage'

A theoretical wage level that allows the earner to afford adequate shelter, food and the other necessities of life. The living wage should be substantial enough to ensure that no more than 30% of it needs to be spent on housing. The goal of the living wage is to allow employees to earn enough income for a satisfactory standard of living.


There are supporters and critics of the idea of a living wage and its effects on the economy. The critics argue that implementing a living wage establishes a wage floor, which will harm the economy. They believe that companies will choose not to hire the same number of employees at such high levels of pay. This creates higher unemployment, resulting in deadweight loss, as people who would work for less than a living wage are no longer offered employment.

Supporters of the living wage, on the other hand, argue that benefiting employees will also help the company. If employees are more satisfied earning a living wage, there will be less employment turnover. This reduces expensive recruitment and training costs for the firm. They also argue that the higher wage will boost morale. Employees with high morale are expected to have higher productivity, allowing the company to benefit from increased worker output.