A lot of the research behind the Living Wage is based on overseas work (unsurprisingly, since that’s where it originated), so it’s good to see that Massey academics are launching a project to look at what it means here:
Project team co-leader Professor Jane Parker says the project aims to “go beyond the usual economic analysis” of living wage research to provide useful data for any organisation deciding how to respond to this complex issue.
“We want to establish a whole range of indices that might be useful to different parties – whether it’s an employer weighing up the costs of a living wage or a union organisation looking to put forward a case for it,” she says.
Co-leader Professor Stuart Carr adds: “Existing research has tended to focus on the economics of introducing a living wage so we also want to look at it in terms of related benefits like well-being, happiness, quality of life, and empowerment.
“We are trying to take a broad view of how it actually affects employees, their families and poverty levels, and how this might impact on matters like productivity and retention for employers.”
There will be three strands to the research project: an online survey of employers, managers and employees; meetings with government, union and employer organisations and other stakeholders to map out policy considerations; and an in-depth case study of an organisation that has recently introduced a living wage for staff.
As they point out, New Zealand has an unusually large number of small and medium sized businesses in its economy, so there may be more companies that are hard to convert to the Living Wage. On the other hand, most New Zealanders are still employed in big firms.