Labour Studies Index

Updated: 2022-05-16

The Impact of a Living Wage from the Perspectives of Workers

Document type Thesis
Author Cameron, Melissa
Degree Master of Arts, Work and Society
Publisher McMaster University; Hamilton, Ont.
Date 2017
Pages 83 oages


The focus of this research is the economic, social and health impacts of a living wage for employees in Ontario who were previously earning less than a living wage. The living wage is a calculation based on how much it costs for a family to live in a specific region. The rise of living wage campaigns is a response to the prevalence of low wage work. This research explains the significance of a living wage from the perspectives of workers compared to current research which concentrates on labour market impacts and how this policy affects businesses. Lived experience is emphasized as an important type of knowledge by including the voices of workers through qualitative interviews. Their experiences highlight how low-income and precarious work can affect workers’ lives and how the living wage addresses these problems. Their experiences also demonstrate how a living wage is a vast improvement from the minimum wage but also reveal the shortfalls of the current living wage framework. Overall, the living wage has a significant impact on the economic, social and health aspects of living wage workers but falls short as an all-encompassing solution for achieving a decent standard of work. Issues such as unaffordable housing, high tuition costs, lack of job opportunities for young workers and precarious work all contribute to an insufficient living wage. These types of social policies from governments and decent work provided by employers need to assist the living wage in achieving a good standard of living for all workers.