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Key Results

“Average wage (AW)” is an important metric as all pension modelling results are presented as multiples of this measure. The average for all OECD countries was USD 41 479 in 2018.

Table 7.5 reports the OECD’s average wage (AW) levels for the year 2018. The wage earnings are defined as gross wages before deductions of any kind (including personal income taxes and social security contributions), but including overtime pay and other cash supplements paid to employees.

Average wages are displayed in national currencies and in US dollars (both at market exchange rates and at purchasing power parities, PPP). The PPP exchange rate adjusts for the fact that the purchasing power of a dollar varies between countries: it allows for differences in the price of a basket of goods and services between countries.

Wage earnings across the OECD countries averaged USD 41 479 in 2018 at market exchange rates. Switzerland and Iceland have the highest levels at USD 92 964 and USD 84 510, respectively. These are approximately 15 times the level recorded in Mexico, at USD 6 350, which is followed by the next lowest country, Turkey (USD 9 718).

At PPP wages averaged USD 45 6244. Switzerland is again highest amongst OECD countries, at USD 76 419, with Luxembourg, Germany and Iceland next at USD 68 240, USD 66 521 and USD 66 165 respectively. Mexico is again the lowest, at USD 13 027, but is now followed by Chile and Latvia at around USD 23 500. The higher figure for PPP wages suggests that many OECD countries’ exchange rates with the US dollar were lower than the rate that would equalise the cost of a standard basket of goods and services.

Average wages for the other major economies are not based on the average wage definition or another consistent basis as such series are unfortunately not available. Data have been collected from national sources and thus vary between average individual income, average covered wage and average wage for a particular group of workers as available. The figures used range from a low of USD 1 522 in India to a high of USD 26 614 in Saudi Arabia, at market exchange rates.

Definition and measurement

The “average worker” earnings series (AW), defined as the average full-time adult gross wage earnings, was adopted from the second edition of Pensions at a Glance (OECD, 2007). This concept is broader than the previous benchmark of the “average manual production worker” (APW) because it covers more economic sectors and includes both manual and non-manual workers. The new AW measure was introduced in the OECD report Taxing Wages and also serves as benchmark for Benefits and Wages. The third edition of Pensions at a Glance (OECD, 2009) also included a comparison of replacement rates under the old and new measures of earnings for eight countries where the results were significantly different.

Further Reading

OECD (2019), Taxing Wages 2019, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://dx.doi.org/10.1787/tax_wages-2019-en.

OECD (2009), Pensions at a Glance 2009: Retirement-Income Systems in OECD Countries, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://dx.doi.org/10.1787/pension_glance-2009-en.

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Table 7.5. Average wage (AW), 2018

OECD measures of average wages

Exchange rate, national currency per USD

National currency

USD, market exchange rate

USD, PPP

Market rate

PPP

Australia

85 778

64 089

59 872

1.34

1.43

Austria

47 120

55 619

59 934

0.85

0.79

Belgium

48 455

57 196

61 877

0.85

0.78

Canada

53 550

41 327

43 022

1.30

1.24

Chile

9 669 058

15 078

23 883

641.28

404.85

Czech Republic

383 304

17 639

30 377

21.73

12.62

Denmark

421 547

66 757

60 578

6.31

6.96

Estonia

16 103

19 008

29 390

0.85

0.55

Finland

43 984

51 918

50 122

0.85

0.88

France

39 436

46 549

50 904

0.85

0.77

Germany

50 546

59 664

66 521

0.85

0.76

Greece

21 214

25 040

36 459

0.85

0.58

Hungary

4 138 492

15 316

29 474

270.21

140.41

Iceland

9 152 462

84 510

66 165

108.30

138.33

Ireland

46 774

55 211

58 292

0.85

0.80

Israel

153 221

42 673

40 836

3.59

3.75

Italy

31 292

36 937

44 807

0.85

0.70

Japan

5 188 742

46 990

51 184

110.42

101.37

Korea

48 166 599

43 766

55 975

1100.56

860.51

Latvia

11 881

14 025

23 796

0.85

0.50

Lithuania

11 121

13 126

24 303

0.85

0.46

Luxembourg

59 497

70 229

68 240

0.85

0.87

Mexico

122 208

6 350

13 027

19.24

9.38

Netherlands

51 567

60 868

64 662

0.85

0.80

New Zealand

60 360

41 764

40 828

1.45

1.48

Norway

596 477

73 345

58 813

8.13

10.14

Poland

54 191

15 004

30 490

3.61

1.78

Portugal

18 343

21 652

30 908

0.85

0.59

Slovak Republic

12 131

14 319

24 846

0.85

0.49

Slovenia

19 671

23 220

33 819

0.85

0.58

Spain

26 923

31 779

41 557

0.85

0.65

Sweden

453 539

52 176

50 839

8.69

8.92

Switzerland

90 908

92 964

76 419

0.98

1.19

Turkey

46 921

9 718

29 110

4.83

1.61

United Kingdom

39 328

52 467

56 169

0.75

0.70

United States

54 951

54 951

54 951

1.00

1.00

OECD

41 479

45 624

Other G20 countries

Argentina

294 613

10 486

18 748

28.09

15.71

Brazil

26 929

7 370

13 275

3.65

2.03

China

72 067

10 893

20 217

6.62

3.56

India

105 963

1 549

5 845

68.39

18.13

Indonesia

31 800 000

2 234

7 490

14236.94

4245.61

Russian Federation

470 303

7 505

18 340

62.67

25.64

Saudi Arabia

99 802

26 614

63 275

3.75

1.58

South Africa

119 977

9 061

19 592

13.24

6.12

Note: USD = United States of America Dollar, PPP = purchasing power parity.

Source: OECD (2019), Taxing Wages 2019, OECD Publishing Paris and OECD’s National Accounts database.

 StatLink https://doi.org/10.1787/888934042257

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