Living Wage Series - South Africa - September 2019- In Rand, 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 ZAR)

  Typical family Standard family Single-adult
  from-to from-to from-to
Food expenses 3120-4210 2780-3750 695-935
Housing expenses 5070-7000 5070-7000 2920-4470
Transport expenses 600-900 600-900 300-450
Healthcare expenses 915-1500 915-1500 230-375
Education expenses 1500-2000 1500-2000 0
Other expenses 560-780 545-755 205-310
Total Expenditure 11765-16390 11410-15905 4349-6540
Net Living Wage 7353-10244 6339-8836 4349-6540
Gross Living Wage 8240-11500 7100-9900 4870-7330

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

Typical family (two parents + 2.5 children, 1.6 working) 8240-11500
Standard family (two parents + 2 children, 1.8 working) 7100-9900
Two parents and two children, 2 working 6390-8910
Two parents and two children, 1.5 working 8520-11900
Two parents and two children, 1 working 12800-17800
Two parents and three children, 1.6 working 8490-11800
Two parents and four children, 1.6 working 9000-12500
Single-adult without children, 1 working 4870-7330

Note: Results in the table are rounded.


Living Wages in Context (monthly rates in ZAR)

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 1284 2602 2602 3500
Living Wage - Single Adult 4450-6520 4480-6620 4560-6870 4870-7330
Living Wage - Typical Family 7690-10600 7780-10800 7890-11000 8240-11500
Real wage of low-skilled worker 3110-4400 2990-4220 3330-4660 3330-4680
Real wage of medium-skilled worker 6220-9680 6280-9780 6950-10700 6620-10200
Real wage of high-skilled worker 13000-20400 13400-20900 14800-22700 13700-21200

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.

710_South Africa

Food basket 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 item Grams per day Energy (kcal) Price per kilo
Wheat, barley and cereals products 122 364 20-25
Rice 34 120 13-20
Meat (beef, pork, poultry) 136 249 45-60
Oils (soyabean, olive, palm) 15 133 20-26
Sugar (Raw Equivalent) 69 227 15-22
Maize and products 195 611 14-20
Milk - Excluding Butter 109 61 11-13
Vegetables, Other 49 16 16-20
Potatoes and products 60 43 10-15
Butter, Ghee 1 9 30-45
Groundnuts (Shelled Eq) 3 11 25-50
Pulses, Other and products 0 1 20-60
Cassava and products 0 0 10-15
Egg (price per 10 eggs) 14 20 13-18
Sunflowerseed Oil 10 90 20-30
Fish products 12 9 50-80
Beer (0.5 liter/pint) 119 58 24-32
Sweeteners, Other 3 9 15-20
Beans 4 12 20-30
Sweet potatoes 2 2 12-15
Bananas 14 9 10-15
Soyabeans 2 9 14-22
Yams 0 0 14-20
Apples and products 22 6 15-20
Tomatoes and products 19 4 15-17
Onions 16 6 12-16
Oranges, Mandarines 14 4 15-20
Plantains 3 2 10-14
Peas 1 1 15-25
Roots, Other 0 0 10-14
Seeds and kernels 0 0 20-30
Wine (bottle) 15 10 49-67
Pineapples and products 2 1 -
Cream 0 0 30-60
Olives (including preserved) 0 0 64-90
Honey 0 1 41-60
Citrus, Other 0 0 10-15
Lemons, Limes and products 1 0 12-18
Tea (including mate) 1 0 23-36
Grapefruit and products 5 1 10-15
Coffee and products 2 1 55-80


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). Estimating Living Wage Globally. Amsterdam, WageIndicator Foundation
WageIndicator Wages in Context Map with the latest updates
All You Always wanted to Know about Living Wages