Living Wage Series - Malaysia - December 2018 - In Malaysian Ringgit, 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 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 Malaysian Ringgit)

  Typical family Standard family Single-adult
  from-to from-to from-to
Food 715-1020 715-1020 180-255
Housing 600-1050 600-1050 300-545
Transport 100-120 100-120 50-60
Health 120-200 120-200 30-50
Education 200-300 200-300 0
Other costs 87-135 87-135 28-46
Total Expenditure 1822-2825 1822-2825 588-956
Net Living Wage 1072-1662 1012-1569 588-956
Gross Living Wage 1200-1860 1140-1760 660-1070

Note: For more details see Living Wage FAQ.


Family Living Wages (monthly rates in Malaysian Ringgit)

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 + 2 children, 1.7 working) 1200-1860
Standard family (two parents + 2 children, 1.8 working) 1140-1760
Two parents and two children, 2 working 1020-1580
Two parents and two children, 1.5 working 1360-2110
Two parents and two children, 1 working 2040-3170
Two parents and three children, 1.7 working 1320-2040
Two parents and four children, 1.7 working 1450-2220
Single-adult without children, 1 working 660-1070

Note: Results in the table are rounded.


Living Wages in Context (monthly rates in Malaysian Ringgit)

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.

  2015 2016 2017 2018
Minimum wage 800 1200 1200 1200
Living Wage - Single Adult - - 700-1130 660-1070
Living Wage - Typical Family - - 1290-1980 1200-1860
Real wage of low-skilled worker - - - 1620-1600
Real wage of medium-skilled worker - - - 1310-1820
Real wage of high-skilled worker - - - 1730-2670

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.

Malaysia Graph

Food basket and food prices in Malaysian Ringgit

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 108 296 4.9-6.4
Rice 166 568 3-4
Meat (beef, pork, poultry) 123 208 12-20
Oils (soyabean, olive, palm) 34 298 2.5-3
Sugar (Raw Equivalent) 88 300 2.9-3
Maize and products 32 89 -
Milk - Excluding Butter 52 42 4-6
Vegetables, Other 104 29 3-5
Potatoes and products 22 14 3-4
Butter, Ghee 2 16 20-20
Groundnuts (Shelled Eq) 15 33 -
Pulses, Other and products 2 7 10-20
Cassava and products 4 4 2.5-4
Egg (price per 10 eggs) 34 49 3.3-4.5
Fish products 121 85 12-16
Beer (0.5 liter/pint) 18 7 -
Beans 3 9 14-20
Sweet potatoes 2 1 4-6
Bananas 15 10 4.5-5
Yams 0 0 10-11
Apples and products 7 3 6-7
Tomatoes and products 13 3 3-4.5
Onions 27 10 2.3-4
Oranges, Mandarines 13 4 6-8
Plantains 0 0 4-5
Peas 1 5 -
Roots, Other 2 3 5-8.5
Pineapples and products 15 5 -
Cream 0 0 16-24
Lemons, Limes and products 1 0 5-9
Tea (including mate) 2 1 -
Coffee and products 0 0 6-10


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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