Living Wage Series - China - September 2019 - In CNY, per Month

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 in more than 70 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 CNY)

  Typical family Standard family Single-adult
  from-to from-to from-to
Food expenses 2420-3340 2690-3710 670-925
Housing expenses 2000-3110 2000-3110 1200-2000
Transport expenses 200-300 200-300 100-150
Healthcare expenses 165-515 165-515 41-130
Education expenses 180-525 180-525 0
Other expenses 250-390 260-410 100-160
Total Expenditure 5215-8180 5495-8570 2111-3364
Net Living Wage 3068-4812 3053-4761 2111-3364
Gross Living Wage 3650-5730 3640-5670 2510-4010

Note: For more details see Living Wage FAQ.


Family Living Wages (monthly rates in CNY)

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.

Typical family (two parents + 1.6 children, 1.7 working) 3650-5730
Standard family (two parents + 2 children, 1.8 working) 3640-5670
Two parents and two children, 2 working 3270-5100
Two parents and two children, 1.5 working 4360-6800
Two parents and two children, 1 working 6540-10200
Two parents and three children, 1.7 working 4340-6680
Two parents and four children, 1.7 working 4840-7360
Single-adult without children, 1 working 2510-4010

Note: Results in the table are rounded.


Living Wages in Context (monthly rates in CNY)

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.

  2016 2017 2018 2019
Minimum wage 1000 1260 1260 1260
Living Wage - Single Adult 2800-4200 2510-3780 2370-3600 2510-4010
Living Wage - Typical Family 3920-5920 3600-5570 3330-5180 3650-5730
Real wage of low-skilled worker - - - -
Real wage of medium-skilled worker - - - -
Real wage of high-skilled worker - - - -

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 CNY

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 item Grams per day Energy (kcal) Price per kilo
Wheat, barley and cereals products 126 396 10-14
Rice 149 559 5-6
Meat (beef, pork, poultry) 124 344 24-37
Oils (soyabean, olive, palm) 14 121 -
Sugar (Raw Equivalent) 13 46 -
Maize and products 13 38 -
Milk - Excluding Butter 63 41 10-13
Vegetables, Other 584 141 3-5
Potatoes and products 79 55 4-6
Butter, Ghee 4 27 -
Groundnuts (Shelled Eq) 13 52 -
Pulses, Other and products 1 4 -
Cassava and products 4 4 -
Egg (price per 10 eggs) 36 53 80-120
Sunflowerseed Oil 0 2 -
Fish products 85 42 40-40
Beer (0.5 liter/pint) 70 34 -
Sweet potatoes 46 45 -
Bananas 14 9 6-8
Soyabeans 7 25 -
Apples and products 40 17 10-12
Tomatoes and products 59 11 6-8
Onions 26 10 4-6
Oranges, Mandarines 29 8 8-11
Peas 1 3 -
Roots, Other 2 2 -
Seeds and kernels 1 4 -
Wine (bottle) 3 2 -
Pineapples and products 2 1 -
Cream 0 0 66-100
Honey 0 1 -
Citrus, Other 6 1 -
Lemons, Limes and products 2 1 -
Tea (including mate) 2 1 -
Grapefruit and products 4 1 -


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.

WageIndicator useful links:

Publication Guzi, M., & Kahanec, M. (2019).  Living Wage Globally. Amsterdam, WageIndicator Foundation
WageIndicator Wages in Context Map with the latest updates
All You Always wanted to Know about Living Wages