Living Wages in Zambia, per month in ZMW - October 2017

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 uses prices from the Cost of Living Survey to calculate Living Wage for 60 countries. The Living Wage is an approximate income needed to meet a family’s basic needs including food, housing, transport, health, education, tax deductions and other necessities.

The following table summarises the varying expenditure and income needs for the three commonly occurring family household compositions.

Expenditure and Living Wage calculation (monthly rates in Zambian Kwacha)

  Typical family   Standard family   Single-adult  
  from to from to from to
Food 2460 2820 1330 1520 330 380
Housing 900 1000 900 1000 710 1000
Transport 300 465 300 465 150 230
Health 400 1000 400 1000 100 250
Education 375 1200 375 1200 0 0
Other costs 220 325 165 260 65 93
Total Expenditure 4655 6810 3470 5445 1355 1953
Net Living Wage 2450 3584 1928 3025 1355 1953
Gross Living Wage 2800 4090 2200 3450 1550 2230

Note: For more details see Living Wage FAQ.

Family Living Wages (monthly rates in Zambian Kwacha)

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 most common family household compositions and under different assumptions about working hours.

  from to
Typical family (two parents + 5.4 children, 1.9 working) 2800 4090
Standard family (two parents + 2 children, 1.8 working) 2200 3450
Two parents and two children, 2 working 1980 3110
Two parents and two children, 1.5 working 2640 4140
Two parents and two children, 1 working 3960 6210
Two parents and three children, 1.9 working 2290 3520
Two parents and four children, 1.9 working 2500 3750
Single-adult without children, 1 working 1550 2230

Note: Results in the table are rounded.

Living Wages in Context (monthly rates in Zambian Kwacha)

The Minimum Wage is a national legally binding obligation on employers which often make no reference to a living standard. Living Wage describes the adequate living standard. The common goal of the many living wage campaigns currently taking place all over the world is to lift Minimum Wages levels to those of the Living Wages. WageIndicator presents Living Wages jointly with Minimum Wages, aiming to raise awareness concerning the remaining differences in levels. Living Wages are presented in context with other wage indicators including prevailing wages of workers over recent years.

  2014 . 2015 . 2016 . 2017 .
  from to from to from to from to
Minimum wage . . . . . . . .
Living Wage - Single Adult . . . . . . 1550 2230
Living Wage - Typical Family . . . . . . 2800 4090
Real wage of low-skilled worker 1320 1870 1180 1300 . . 1380 1760
Real wage of medium-skilled worker 2140 4070 2710 4260 2370 4370 2540 4290
Real wage of high-skilled worker 4290 8680 5410 8970 4530 8750 4960 8810

Note: Table shows the lowest monthly Minimum Wage in a country, when available. Reported monthly earnings of workers in low-, medium-, and high-skilled occupations are obtained from the voluntary WageIndicator web survey on work and wages. Results in the table are rounded.


Food basket and food prices in Zambian Kwacha

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 41 117 10 14
Rice 9 33 12 14
Meat (beef, pork, poultry) 43 70 28 36
Oils (soyabean, olive, palm) 15 127 18.5 21.5
Sugar (Raw Equivalent) 30 105 9.8 12
Maize and products 360 1107 12 12
Milk - Excluding Butter 29 17 10 12
Vegetables, Other 64 17 10 14
Potatoes and products 7 6 5 10
Butter, Ghee 1 7 25 28
Groundnuts (Shelled Eq) 15 80 10 10
Pulses, Other and products 5 18 . .
Cassava and products 212 234 5.5 7
Egg (price per 10 eggs) 10 12 10 10
Sunflowerseed Oil 0 1 . .
Fish products 19 12 25 30
Beer 34 14 14 20
Sweeteners, Other 1 4 9.9 10
Beans 0 0 8 10
Sweet potatoes 35 34 5 5
Bananas 1 0 6 10
Soyabeans 22 74 . .
Apples and products 3 1 10 15
Tomatoes and products 6 1 5 10
Onions 9 3 7 10
Oranges, Mandarines 4 1 11 12
Peas 0 0 15 25
Roots, Other 0 0 10 20
Seeds and kernels 1 2 . .
Wine 0 0 33.3 46.7
Cream 0 0 12 20
Honey 0 0 39 47
Citrus, Other 0 0 12 20
Lemons, Limes and products 0 0 5 10
Tea (including mate) 0 0 15 18
Grapefruit and products 0 0 20 23
Coffee and products 1 1 17 19

WageIndicator Living Wage background:

The WageIndicator Living Wage is set to provide acceptable living standard to a family of a particular size. WageIndicator presents Living Wages for several household types and working hours which reflect the most frequently found real situations in which people have to make a living: 1. Typical family Living Wage is a baseline estimate that respects the country specific conditions. Typical family is comprised of two adults and the number of children is given by country specific fertility rate (the average number of children a woman is expected to have during her lifespan). One adult is working full-time and the working hours of second adult are approximated by national employment rate. The total income earned by two adults paid living wage is sufficient to reach adequate living standard. 2. Standard family Living Wage is estimated for a family composed of two adults and two children (referred to as family 2+2). Living wage is calculated under different assumptions about working hours. These include that both adults work full-time (family employment rate is 2), or at least one adult works part-time or half-time (family employment rate is 1.8 and 1.5), or one adult does not work at all (i.e. patriarchal model with family employment 1). Alternatives refer to trade-offs between leisure and work and define what living wage represents. In every case the total income earned by two adults paid living wage is sufficient to reach adequate living standard. 3. Extended family Living Wage includes family with three or four children. One adult works full-time and the work intensity of second parent is approximated by national employment rate. 4. Individual Living Wage represents an acceptable standard of living for a single individual working full-time.

Data sources: WageIndicator Cost of Living Survey, World Bank Databank Fertility rate 2010-2014, ILO Estimated participation rate in 2017, FAO Food balance sheet in 2013.

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