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Globally, minimum wages differ between countries and while these wages are considerably high in some countries, they are comparatively low in others.

As regards the minimum wages of some countries, it may be difficult to arrive at exact country-wide figures. This is because in such countries, the minimum wage varies from one region, occupation or industry to another.

Also, there are countries in which minimum wages vary from one age grade to another. In the long run, this translates into the likelihood that employees belonging to an advanced age grade tend to earn better than counterparts in lower age grades.

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Whereas the major focus of this post is on the top 10 countries with the lowest minimum wages, the post further educates you about what is meant by minimum wage as well as the criteria for setting minimum wages.


Understanding What Is Meant by Minimum Wage

Minimum wage is defined as the lowest amount of money that employers are allowed to pay their employees for the job done over a given period. While a country’s minimum wage is most commonly calculated hourly, it is often provided in the labour laws of countries that employers must not keep their employees’ minimum wages below the standards set by relevant authorities.

The definition of minimum wage, as the least payable amount by an employer to an employee for a given work period, is in line with that of the International Labour Organization (ILO). However, it is not in all countries of the world that all employers stick to government-stipulated minimum wages.

Particularly in underdeveloped and many developing countries, lots of employers fail to comply with government-stipulated minimum wages. Notably, studies have shown that countries with inadequate job opportunities as well as inadequate concentration of industries find it difficult to comply with ILO’s minimum wage standard.

In advanced countries, minimum wage laws are duly respected by employers. Such laws, as stipulated in the labour laws of the countries, oblige all employers not to pay their employees below the set minimum wage. Depending on industry, employee age and experience, some employers may decide to pay fairly above the standard minimum wage. This is permissible under labour laws and is widely practised by employers in countries with flourishing economies.


How Is the Minimum Wage Determined?

Minimum Wage - Overview, Purpose, and Exempt Categories

Rather than being set arbitrarily, minimum wages are determined based on criteria which may differ among countries. Some of the factors generally considered in determining minimum wages include the age of an employee, the employee’s expertise and the time spent on a job.

In most countries, the minimum wage is often set on an hourly basis. However in general, the minimum wage may be calculated monthly, weekly, daily and even yearly.

Besides the criteria for determining minimum wages, another thing you should know is that the minimum wage does not include deductions such as taxes and underlying charges. It is basically the total hourly/weekly/monthly/yearly income of an employee.

 

Why Do Governments Set Minimum Wages?

The main reason why minimum wages are set is to protect the interest of employees, particularly where such employees are skilled and can significantly contribute to the development of their employers’ businesses.

Where minimum wage laws are not adhered to, employers might decide to remunerate their employees with wages considered disproportionate to the expertise or effort of the employees. For instance, in poorly developed countries where employers hardly abide by the ILO-approved minimum remuneration standard, the incidence of exploitative remuneration is so rampant that many workers have been rendered extremely poor.

Top 10 Countries with the Lowest Minimum Wages in the World

1.Kyrgyzstan

With the monthly minimum wage of $14 (1,140 Kyrgyzstani), Kyrgyzstan occupies the first position among the countries with the lowest minimum wages. Kyrgyzstan, which is an Asian country, was a Russian colony until 1991.

The stated minimum wage of 1,140 Kyrgyzstani per month has been in effect since 2017. Although Kyrgyzstan is endowed with resources including oil and gas, the country’s minimum wage is considered the lowest in the world.

Kyrgyzstan, which gained independence in 1991, is an Asian Republican state.

2.Bangladesh

Bangladesh does not maintain a uniform wage structure across its industries. A breakdown of Bangladesh’s minimum wage structure indicates that the monthly minimum wage for employees in the economic sector stands at $19 while employees in the country’s garment industry earn at least $68 monthly.

Bangladesh’s minimum wage is determined through a tripartite forum organized by the country’s National Minimum Wage Board every five years. With jute being Bangladesh’s major economic product, it’s highly reckonable that jute production in Bangladesh accounts for 60% of the world’s jute production.

Formerly regarded as the Eastern Province of Pakistan, Bangladesh is a country in southern Asia and it gained independence in 1971.

From the statistics provided about Bangladesh’s minimum wage structure, it is evident that average Bangladeshi employees in the economic sector are remunerated very poorly compared to those under industry-specific minimum wages.

3.Venezuela

Venezuela’s actual monthly minimum wage may be difficult to arrive at but based on estimates, the country’s monthly minimum wage is less than $20. Although Venezuela is economically endowed, corruption and bad governance happen to have ruined the country’s economy.

Reports claim that Venezuela grapples with economic instability occasioned by currency devaluation and severe hyperinflation.

Due to the severe economic crisis in Venezuela, lots of Venezuelans are now in the habit of leaving their regular jobs for online jobs such as programming and graphic design. These days, many Venezuelan professionals working online get paid in US dollars which are a better alternative to the devalued Venezuelan currency.

4.Cuba

Cuba is a Caribbean island and Spanish-speaking country that is highly dependent on sugar exportation. Cuba, which was a Spanish colony until 1898, has been described as the country with the fourth lowest minimum wage in the world.

With sugar accounting for nothing less than 70% of its exports, Cuba maintains a relatively meager monthly minimum wage of $30.14 (which is equal to 420 pesos). However, the Cuban government makes up for the stated wage deficit by providing free food for Cuban employees.

5.Iran

Iran’s monthly minimum wage is in two variants –the unofficial monthly wage of $100 and the official monthly wage of $216.

Sadly, Iran is one of the countries terribly hit by currency devaluation and economic crisis. With this, $1 exchanges for as much as 110,000 Iranian rials.

In Iran, the influence of the black market makes it practically impossible for the Iranian government to stabilize the country’s exchange rate.

6.Albania

Albania’s monthly minimum wage is estimated around $210, making Albania one of the European countries with meager minimum wages.

Even as Albania has been recovering from the aftermath of its national crisis of the 1980s, the country’s monthly minimum wage of $210 is considered low compared to those of other European countries.

Many Albanians try to double up their income streams as a way of cushioning the economic effects of the country’s low minimum wage.

Considering that Albania is a developing country, its monthly minimum wage of $210 may prove substantial. Interestingly, some of the things that could attract tourists/foreigners to the country are fair taxation policies, reduced cost of living and desirable standard of living.

7.Ukraine

Ukraine is a European country with the monthly minimum wage of $212. Barring the fact that bad governance and corruption pulled back its economy, Ukraine could have been faring well in terms of minimum wage. Nevertheless, Ukraine’s minimum wage is considered appreciable except when compared with those of powerful European countries.

Perhaps, Ukraine is one country that has suffered the kind of fate that befell the economies of Venezuela and Iran.

8.Malaysia

The monthly minimum wage in Malaysia stands at $243. As much as one may want to consider this a relatively low wage, Malaysia however offers several benefits in such areas as cost of living, labour force and foreign investments.

Broadly, Malaysia is a suitable destination for digital nomads, most especially online professionals in the fields of business management, computer science, marketing and graphic design.

Malaysia’s labour force is less saturated and many foreigners are taking advantage of job openings to keep themselves meaningfully engaged in the country.

9.Morocco

The minimum wage of Morocco is in two variants notably $265 monthly wage for employees in the private sector and $310 monthly wage for their counterparts in the public sector.

However, Morocco boasts one of the best economies in Africa and professionals relocating to the North African country can succeed with such skills as human resources, sales management, engineering and marketing.

10.South Africa

With its monthly minimum wage estimated around $277, South Africa boasts a much more vibrant economy compared to most of the other African countries.

Foreigners willing to explore South Africa for formal occupations may like to find themselves in one of the country’s profitable business lines including product management, software engineering, data science, account management, etc.

Similarly, online professionals relocating to South Africa will find the country suitable for rendering their internet-based services.

Conclusion

We hope you’ve found the above information insightful regarding the countries with the lowest minimum wages in the world. However, the figures above are not completely accurate since many employers in the listed countries tend to defy the minimum wage laws set by relevant authorities.

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