In 2007 the minimum wage was was expanded to the current rate.  Families are still trying to get by on that.  One of the big economic policy debates going onright now has to do with the minimum...

In 2007 the minimum wage was was expanded to the current rate.  Families are still trying to get by on that.  One of the big economic policy debates going onright now has to do with the minimum wage vs. a living wage.  What is the difference between a minimum wage and a living wage?  Give an example of 2 countries that have a living wage policy, What are the pros of living wage? What are the pros of minimum wage?  Which of these policies would be best for the US?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The difference between a minimum wage and a living wage is that the latter is calibrated to provide a worker with the amount of money they need to meet all of their basic needs.  By contrast, the former is simply a wage floor that is not necessarily set with respect to the cost of living in a given country or area.  We can see the difference when, for example, we consider the fact that the minimum wage in the United States does not rise with inflation.  This means that it does not keep up with the cost of living, which is something that a living wage would have to do.

I would argue that a minimum wage is a better alternative than a living wage, particularly on the national level.  The main reason for this is that a living wage would be very difficult to administer.  The main reason for this is that different areas of the country have very different costs of living.  In order to have a national living wage law, we would have to figure out a way to have every different community in the country compute its cost of living.  Then we would have to have different living wages set for each of these communities.  This would require a great deal of bureaucratic effort to administer.  This makes a minimum wage much more feasible.

However, one could clearly argue that a living wage would be a better policy because it would actually ensure that people would have a decent standard of living.  Minimum wage laws can be criticized because they can be set at a level that is not really high enough to give people a decent life.  This is a clear argument in favor of a living wage.

I would say that it is a good idea for cities and localities to set their own living wage levels, but that the national government should only have a minimum wage law.

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