Living Wages in South Africa, per month in ZAR

The Living Wage is based on the concept that work should provide an adequate income to cover the necessary living costs of a family. WageIndicator calculates Living Wage for around 50 countries based on prices collected within the WageIndicator Cost of Living Survey. The Living Wage calculated by WageIndicator is composed of seven parts: food, housing, transport, health, education, tax and other costs.

WageIndicator presents Living Wages for several household types and working hours to respond to different demands for living wage information: Typical family Living Wage is a baseline estimate that respects the country specific conditions. Family includes two adults and the number of children is given by country specific fertility rate (2.4 children per woman). One parent is working full-time and the working hours of second parent are approximated by national employment rate (63% in 2017). Standard family Living Wage is estimated for a family composed of two adults and two children. One parent is employed full-time and the second parent works 4 days a week it means family employment rate is 1.8. Single-adult Living Wage represents an acceptable standard of living for a single individual working full-time with no dependents.

Expenditure and Living Wage calculation (monthly rates in ZAR)

  Typical family   Standard family   Single-adult  
  from to from to from to
Food 2940 3890 2660 3540 665 885
Housing 2500 3000 2500 3000 2000 2570
Transport 600 900 600 900 300 450
Health 700 2000 700 2000 175 500
Education 1200 2200 1200 2200 0 0
Other costs 395 600 385 580 155 220
Total Expenditure 8335 12590 8045 12220 3295 4625
Net Living Wage 5209 7869 4469 6789 3295 4625
Gross Living Wage 5835 8813 5006 7604 3690 5180

Note: For more details see Living Wage FAQ.

Family Living Wages (monthly rates in ZAR)

There is not a single answer to what is the adequate cost of living. The result is complex, as the cost of living varies by household composition, location, and employment pattern. The following table presents the Living Wage estimates for a set of common household compositions and under different assumptions about working hours.

  from to
Typical family (two parents + 2.4 children, 1.6 working) 5840 8820
Standard family (two parents + 2 children, 1.8 working) 5010 7610
Two parents and two children, 2 working 4510 6850
Two parents and two children, 1.5 working 6010 9130
Two parents and two children, 1 working 9010 13700
Two parents and three children, 1.6 working 6120 9210
Two parents and four children, 1.6 working 6610 9860
Single-adult without children, 1 working 3690 5180

Note: Results in the table are rounded.

Living Wages in Context (monthly rates in ZAR)

Living Wages are presented in context with other wage indicators including minimum wage, poverty line, and various prevailing wages of workers. Table shows the development of income levels over two years.

7-12/20151-6/20167-12/20161-6/2017
  from to from to from to from to
Minimum wage 1284 . 1284 . 1284 . 2602 .
Living Wage - Typical Family 6350 10000 5910 9340 5840 8700 5840 8820
Living Wage - Single Adult 4080 5810 4000 5600 4050 5450 3690 5180
Real wage of low-skilled worker 2670 3810 2960 4180 2740 3860 3100 4480
Real wage of medium-skilled worker 6470 10100 6460 9830 6290 9790 6770 10700
Real wage of high-skilled worker 13300 20500 13500 20500 13300 20600 14800 22900

Note: Reported monthly earnings of workers in low-, medium-, and high-skilled occupations are obtained from the voluntary WageIndicator web surveys on work and wages over the last 36 months. Results in the table are rounded.

Living Wage model diet and food prices in ZAR

The food expenditure is the main component of Living Wage and it is determined by the price of food basket. The food prices are taken from WageIndicator Cost of Living Survey which collects the actual prices of all items necessary to calculate the Living Wage. The composition of the food basket is taken from the national food balance sheets published by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The food basket is scaled to 2,100 calories per person per day that is the nutritional requirement for good health proposed by World Bank (Handbook on poverty and inequality, 2009).

Food itemGrams per dayEnergy (kcal)Price per kilo fromto
Wheat, barley and cereals 122 364 20 24
Rice 34 120 12.9 18
Meat (beef, pork, poultry) 136 249 45 60
Oils (soyabean, olive, palm) 15 133 19 25
Sugar (Raw Equivalent) 69 227 15 20
Maize and products 195 611 12 17.5
Milk - Excluding Butter 109 61 10 12
Vegetables, Other 49 16 18 22
Potatoes and products 60 43 10 15
Butter, Ghee 1 9 26 35
Groundnuts (Shelled Eq) 3 11 25 50
Pulses, Other and products 0 1 15 20
Cassava and products 0 0 10 14
Egg (price per 10 eggs) 14 20 267 17
Sunflowerseed Oil 10 90 20 29
Fish products 12 9 50 70
Beer 119 58 30 42
Sweeteners, Other 3 9 13 20
Beans 4 12 12 18
Sweet potatoes 2 2 12 15
Bananas 14 9 10 12
Soyabeans 2 9 15 20
Yams 0 0 13.5 20
Apples and products 22 6 15 18
Tomatoes and products 19 4 13 15.5
Onions 16 6 10 15
Oranges, Mandarines 14 4 13 19
Plantains 3 2 10 14
Peas 1 1 15 19
Roots, Other 0 0 10 12
Seeds and kernels 0 0 20 30
Wine 15 10 46.7 66.7
Pineapples and products 2 1 . .
Cream 0 0 25 40
Olives (including preserved) 0 0 30 45
Honey 0 1 39 51
Citrus, Other 0 0 10.9 15
Lemons, Limes and products 1 0 12 16
Tea (including mate) 1 0 20 30
Grapefruit and products 5 1 10 16
Coffee and products 2 1 53 80

Data sources:

Living Wage FAQ.

WageIndicator Cost of Living Survey

World Bank Databank, Fertility rate – average births per woman in years 2010-2014

ILO, Estimated participation rate in 2017

FAO, Food balance sheet in 2013 

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