Minimum wages in Brazil and Indonesia hit young women -February 2012

In both Brazil and Indonesia women and young workers are more likely to earn the minimum wage – or less than the minimum wage -  as compared to men. This means that a legal minimum wage or a higher minimum wage will work out most positively for (young) women. These measures combined therefore are most likely to reduce poverty and the gender pay gap. This overall result from an analysis of Wage Indicator data collected for 14 countries, in a special research dedicated to young working women (2009-2011), confirms research outcomes from many other countries.


When looking at some characteristics of individual work situations in both Brazil and Indonesia, first of all shorter working hours go together with earnings above the minimum wage. Also, contributing to social security makes it more likely to be paid above the minimum wage. Shorter hours and social security matching with higher earnings, suggest that in both countries a layer of privileged workers coexists with a working underclass, denied such decent labour rights. One would expect these working poor to work irregular hours, or have no formal employment at all. And indeed, being an own account worker makes earning under the minimum wage more likely in Brazil, though not in Indonesia. In Indonesia the answer of many seems to be to have two or more small jobs, thereby increasing one´s income. This goes together with the practice of being paid cash in hand when the job is done.

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