Bargain reports and analytics

Minimum wages around the world

PicodiJan 13, 2020

Amendments as of January 2021:

  • The minimum wage in South Africa (including UIF) for 2020 is: R3,425
  • The basic shopping basket makes 35.1 per cent of the minimum net pay
  • In the ranking of best ratio of food prices to the minimum wage, South Africa placed 38th

Minimum wages around the world

Depending on the country, the minimum wage concerns from few to several dozens per cent of the working population. By definition, the minimum wage should protect employees against unduly low earnings. team has decided to find out if this money is enough to afford the minimum comfort of living, as well as how the minimum wage rates have changed in various countries in 2020.

Upward trend

The study included 54 countries where the national minimum wage exists. It turns out that taxation varies significantly from country to country. For example, in the Philippines and Hong Kong, the minimum wage is exempt from the personal income tax. In other places, the difference in gross and net salary could reach even 40 per cent (Romania). For this comparison to be adequate, we took into consideration net pay, which is the money an employee takes home after all deductions.

Minimum wages

In 2020, the highest year to year increase in the minimum wage was noted in Nigeria (64.8 per cent). However, after converting into USD, this amount is still one of the lowest ($74). In South Africa, as well as in some other countries, like the US, Spain or Latvia, the minimum wage remained unchanged. In Kazakhstan, the minimum wage didn’t change, but the actual amount that a worker gets into his pocket decreased, because of higher health insurance.

Basic food products

Just like the previous year, we decided to confront the minimum wage with food prices. The shopping basket created for the purpose of this report consists of eight items: bread, milk, eggs, rice, cheese, meat, fruits and vegetables. Even though this list is short and frugal, these products meet the nutritional needs of an adult and their prices are constantly monitored around the world.

At the beginning of 2020, food prices from the list are as follows:

  • Milk (10 litres) — R141.50
  • Bread (10 loaves, 500 g each) — R129.80
  • Rice (1.5 kg) — R30.29
  • Eggs (20) — R46.95
  • Cheese (1 kg) — R99.51
  • Poultry and beef (6 kg) — R500.43
  • Fruits (6 kg) — R122.40
  • Vegetables (8 kg) — R132.76

The total price of basic food products amounts to R1,203.64, which is 3.84 per cent more than in the previous year.

Food prices in SA

The basic shopping basket makes 35.1 per cent of the minimum net pay. With last year’s prices, the same products made 33.5 per cent of the minimum wage at that time. It means that in South Africa, the increase in prices outran the increase in wages.

Food spending around the world

There are just as many different ways to spend money as there are definitions of the comfort of living. Nevertheless, we compared the prices of the same products in various countries and checked what part of their budget people would have to spend on essential food products.

Food prices to minimum wage ratio

In this comparison, South Africa placed 38th. The best ratio of food prices to the minimum wage was noted in Australia, followed by the United Kingdom and Ireland. In these countries, the basic food products are worth around 7 per cent of the minimum wage.

Lower in the ranking was Pakistan (39th place), Mexico (43rd place), Russia (44th place), or India (49th place).

In some countries, like Nigeria or Uzbekistan, the minimum wage is so low that it does not cover the costs of even the most basic shopping basket.


In the report, the latest minimum wages were compared with the minimum wages applicable for 2019. We omitted countries where the minimum wage is negotiated with trade unions and those where there is no nation-wide minimum wage. As for countries where different minimum wage rates apply for various administrative units (Canada, Vietnam, Thailand), we calculated the mean value of all net wages. Net pays were determined with local tax calculators. Product prices come from where the data is gathered by internet users from all over the world.

For the conversion to local currencies, we used the average Google Finance rates for the fourth quarter of 2019.

Public Use

Feel free to use all the data and infographics presented in this report for both commercial and non-commercial purposes as long as you indicate the author of the research ( with a link to this subpage. If you have any questions, please contact us: