FWN collecting living wage thresholds at local level:

The example of India end-2020

India is a good example of a country when the FWN saw recently the need to collect more data at regional level considering the scale of the country and the huge differences in costs of living between provinces, but also -within each province- between urban and rural areas. This is the reason why the FWN conducted from early June 2020 (immediately after the lockdown due to Covid-19 until December 2020) a large scale field exercise that consisted in different steps:

-Collecting data on wages and living costs in 14 different States of India.

-Visiting a number of companies in each of the 14 states with individual interviews of workers among a minimum sample of 80 workers in each company (both direct employees and contractual workers) to know their family expenditure in different fields (housing, food, education, health, etc.).

-Carrying out surveys of market rates in the same 14 states to have also a feedback from the consumers’ markets and to complement the figures provided by the workers.

-Reproducing the above two exercises (factory visits and market surveys) in both urban and rural areas within each state to capture differences in living costs but also in terms of wage levels and wage structure.

-Building a comprehensive database on wages and living wages and in particular defining 28 living wage thresholds to cover both urban and rural areas in the 14 states.

This led to one of most unique living wage database currently existing in India, and which will be complemented early 2022 by similar field work carried out in more states to progressively cover different categories of workers in all states of the country.

This exercise was extended to neighbouring countries at the end of 2021, with similar surveys being conducted in Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

During the second half of 2022 new surveys have also been carried out in a number of African countries, in particular in Burundi, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo and Ethiopia.