You want to know your Living Wage? Then share the Cost of Living app in your region or any other region in the world - March 21 - 2016

With its offline Cost of Living app WageIndicator wants to complete its already functioning online Cost of Living Survey and Wages in Context calculations (which include living wages for individuals and families). The obvious advantage is increased outreach. From now on everywhere data can be collected and stored in smartphone, tablet or laptop, also in places where at present there is no internet connection available. The only moment when the internet is needed comes when the cost of living data collected and  stored in the device must be uploaded.

Please find the Handout / User guide to use the application in English

This new app therefore allows everybody with a smartphone, tablet or laptop to collect prices OFFLINE. Prices for oranges, rice, water, housing, transport (all in all some 100 essential items from a standard list that is already in use), wherever they are.

WageIndicator promotes its Cost of Living app amongst its teammembers, in particular trade union officials, researchers and journalists who work for the national WageIndicator websites. They are invited to help collect prices in their country. They primarily act as recruiters of volunteers. In each region a minimum of ten volunteers should collect prices and put them on the 100 items-list. These volunteers should be able to target the prices paid by middle class and below, i.e. usually people in low and medium skilled jobs. The volunteers must bring their own smartphone, tablet or laptop. In exchange for data collected and submitted properly they earn airtime or equivalent.

The profile of the volunteer: at least 25; smart with their smartphone, tablet or laptop; precise in writing; good communicator and listener, interested in what people pay for their food, housing and transport; be able to conduct interviews while keeping some distance from the situations of people they are asked to report about; recruiters should keep in mind that women tend to understand prices of household items better than men, i.e. look for female volunteers first.

Result of this action: a minimum of 10 completed Cost of Living Surveys per 6 months, per region. This data will be combined with data of the online Cost of Living Survey in the same country, data which is collected through the national WageIndicator website. The Cost of Living data (i.e. the prices collected) will be used to calculate ranges of living wages for individuals, as well as for a typical and for a standard family in that country and region. This living wage range will always be presented in context with low/medium/high skilled actual wages at real market rates, and - if available – the national statutory minimum wages and the national poverty line (both set by the government).

Additional advantage of involving trade union officials and journalists in this volunteer survey: their knowledge about prices grows, is more factual and less based on hearsay. They now have their own systematic data
collection. Also, their increased knowledge about price levels in relation to statutory minimum wages and actual wages will qualify them to better negotiate about wages in a collective agreement or about upgrading the statutory minimum wages. Will wages go up by our actions? That would of course be great, however we don't know and can't guarantee a pay rise or higher minimum wages. Yet, experience tells us that more knowledge about real prices and wages helps to improve negotiating skills.

The Cost of Living app is available on a dedicated site. Once the volunteer downloads the app from this dedicated site (for this mobile/wifi is needed) he or she can select country, currency and region and start completing the survey together with interviewees/respondents they must find. The upload of the data can be done from any place where there is connection (mobile/wifi). WageIndicator data managers will observe real time when data is submitted. WageIndicator in principle updates its information about both the process and its online datasets 4x a year.

What if data from trade union officials, journalists and volunteers is NOT ok? WageIndicator can check that. We by now have 15 years of experience with volunteer surveys. Some rules apply. In general it holds true that volunteers have no reason to key in bad or wrong data. But volunteers, like anybody, can make mistakes. Therefore, a statistical rule of thumb is used: never take the highest and lowest 25% of the data collected. On top: where possible WageIndicator benchmarks the offline data with its online data collections. WageIndicator in addition can scrape online consumer prices from big supermarket chains also for benchmarking its own price collections (these so-called formal prices tend to be higher than those in the more informal market places).


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