Living Wage Series - Costa Rica - September 2019 - In Costa Rican Colon, 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 CRC)

  Typical family Standard family Single-adult
  from-to from-to from-to
Food expenses 166300-201700 175000-212400 43800-53100
Housing expenses 150000-216700 150000-216700 98100-130200
Transport expenses 38000-60000 38000-60000 19000-30000
Healthcare expenses 20000-30000 20000-30000 5000-7500
Education expenses 30000-50000 30000-50000 0
Other expenses 20200-27900 20700-28500 8290-11000
Total Expenditure 424500-586300 433700-597600 174190-231800
Net Living Wage 265313-366438 240944-332000 174190-231800
Gross Living Wage 291900-403100 265000-365200 191600-255000

Note: For more details see Living Wage FAQ.


Family Living Wages (monthly rates in CRC)

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 + 1.8 children, 1.6 working) 291900-403100
Standard family (two parents + 2 children, 1.8 working) 265000-365200
Two parents and two children, 2 working 238500-328700
Two parents and two children, 1.5 working 318100-438200
Two parents and two children, 1 working 477100-657400
Two parents and three children, 1.6 working 329700-449100
Two parents and four children, 1.6 working 361300-487400
Single-adult without children, 1 working 191600-255000

Note: Results in the table are rounded.


Living Wages in Context (monthly rates in CRC)

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 286467 293132 300256 309143
Living Wage - Single Adult - - - 191600-255000
Living Wage - Typical Family - - - 291900-403100
Real wage of low-skilled worker 279700-345300 288300-348100 299100-357400 307900-370400
Real wage of medium-skilled worker 330800-411000 350500-433300 355200-435300 362400-447800
Real wage of high-skilled worker 516500-733200 536300-753700 546100-757400 556000-777800

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.

188_Costa Rica

Food basket and food prices in CRC

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 93 269 1000-1200
Rice 97 331 910-1250
Meat (beef, pork, poultry) 110 133 3000-4000
Oils (soyabean, olive, palm) 29 254 -
Sugar (Raw Equivalent) 107 379 800-970
Maize and products 23 78 400-750
Milk - Excluding Butter 388 228 570-600
Vegetables, Other 40 13 700-1000
Potatoes and products 33 20 800-950
Butter, Ghee 11 80 1400-1600
Groundnuts (Shelled Eq) 6 17 2500-2500
Pulses, Other and products 1 3 2400-2800
Cassava and products 9 9 700-1000
Egg (price per 10 eggs) 22 29 1060-1380
Sunflowerseed Oil 2 14 -
Fish products 27 19 4000-4500
Beer (0.5 liter/pint) 27 10 1600-2600
Sweeteners, Other 4 14 900-950
Beans 21 72 900-1200
Sweet potatoes 0 0 800-900
Bananas 1 1 750-1000
Soyabeans 3 11 -
Yams 2 2 -
Apples and products 18 5 1500-1890
Tomatoes and products 49 12 775-900
Onions 16 6 700-850
Oranges, Mandarines 62 13 1000-1500
Plantains 34 29 700-1500
Peas 0 1 2000-2000
Roots, Other 9 9 590-1000
Seeds and kernels 0 1 350-500
Wine (bottle) 4 3 5330-7470
Pineapples and products 62 26 -
Honey 1 2 -
Citrus, Other 0 0 2500-2750
Lemons, Limes and products 14 2 556-1000
Tea (including mate) 0 0 540-580
Grapefruit and products 9 2 1000-1300
Coffee and products 5 2 1500-2600


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