How Decent Wages Transform Qualities of Living – By Affording Escape from Working Poverty Traps

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Hapres Co Ltd
(c) 2021 The Author/s
CC BY 4.0
Research in this journal has suggested that job satisfaction and other job attitudes in New Zealand undergo a quantitative shift upwards once wages cross a pivotal wage range. However, the focus did not extend to actual changes in qualities of living beyond work. A fresh analysis of additional qualitative responses to the question, “How well does your wage work for you?”, from the same survey of N = 1011 low-income workers across New Zealand, content-analysed diverse qualities of living along a wage spectrum from Minimum to Living Wage, crossed with household income net of own pay (using median wage as a splitting factor). Converging with the quantitative research reported earlier, there was a reliable pivot range upwards in qualities of living as wages first rose from Minimum Wage, to become transformational after crossing the Living Wage value. This transformational effect of a Living Wage was most clearly pivotal when there was no buffer from any other incomes in the same household. A further, more idiographic analysis of case “outliers” from the wage-wellbeing curve (lower wage-higher satisfaction, plus higher wage-lower satisfaction) revealed additional contextual factors that moderated and mediated qualities of living. Examples included acute sense of a workplace injustice and reduced mental wellbeing. Such factors further inform the ILO’s and UN’s 2016–30 Decent Work Agenda, which includes justice and wellbeing at work.
Carr S, Young-Hauser A, Hodgetts D, Schmidt W, Moran L, Haar J, Parker J, Arrowsmith J, Jones H, Alefaio S. (2021). Research Update: How Decent Wages Transform Qualities of Living—By Affording Escape from Working Poverty Trap. Journal of Sustainability Research. 3. 2.