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living wage

living wage, the hourly wage that, at a minimum, supports a standard of living above the poverty level in a given locality. It differs from the minimum wage, which often provides a less than adequate standard of living. Usually exceeding both federal and state minimum wages, the living wage of any locality is normally set by a law that requires that it be paid to a specific set of workers, often those employed by businesses that have local government contracts or that receive government economic development subsidies. The recipient of a living wage stipend is generally a full-time worker who is expected to support a family (often of four). In normal circumstances, the higher the cost of living in a given locality, the higher the living wage. Living-wage laws are in effect in several European countries, e.g., Great Britain and Switzerland. In the United States, living-wage bills had been enacted by more than 140 cities and counties by 2007. That year Maryland became the first U.S. state to require the payment of a living wage by nearly all profit-making employers with state contracts.

See studies R. Pollin and S. Luce (2000), Z. Madjd-Sadjadi (2001), D. Neumark (2002), D. M. Figart et al. (2002) and as ed. (2004), and S. Luce (2004).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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