The minimum wage a worker in Chile can earn each month is set by law. This is usually adjusted yearly based on inflation.
Chile’s Minimum Wage and Ethical Minimum Wage
As of 2009, the minimum wage in Chile is $165,000 Chilean pesos or about $300 US dollars.
This is the minimum amount a worker should earn for full-time work where full-time work doesn’t exceed 45 hours a week.
What can you actually buy for this much money? Not much. You can compare that minimum wage to the typical cost of products in Chile to see what you could buy.
While the official minimum wage is set by law, there is discussion in Chile about an “ethical minimum wage” that acknowledges how much money someone really needs to live on. Currently this unofficial ethical minimum wage is $250,000 pesos or about $450 US Dollars. The debate raging in Chile about the ethical minimum wage is whether the official wage should just be raised or if the state should subsidize the difference with the working poor.
Chile’s Minimum Wage Compared to Peers
Chile has one of the highest minimum wages in Latin America. The Santiago Times reports:
The Wage Indicator Foundation converts minimum salaries to U.S. dollars and then compares the price of basic goods and services between a given country, Chile, for example, and the United States. Using this formula, the organization concluded that a minimum wage earner in Chile can buy what in the United States would cost US$446.
That puts Chile fourth on the list of Latin American countries with the “highest” minimum wage. The regional leader is Argentina, where minimum salary earners have a relative purchasing power of US$676. Also ahead of Chile are Paraguay (US$592) and Colombia (US$452).
So while Chile has one of the higher minimum wages in Latin America, recent critics have noted that the raise in the wage hasn’t kept pace with inflation and thus the buying power has actually decreased.