Chapter 1 - What is a minimum wage

1.2. How many countries have a minimum wage?

The figure below shows that more than 90 per cent of ILO member States have one or more minimum wages set through legislation or binding collective agreements

This does not mean that in all these countries minimum wages cover a majority of workers or that they are regularly adjusted. It shows, however, that minimum wages are used by a large majority of countries in the world. In many of these countries, policy debates focus not so much on whether to have a minimum wage, but on how to make one work effectively.

Figure 1. Proportion of ILO member States with and without a minimum wage
Source: ILO estimate.
Note: As of September 2015, the ILO had 186 member States. Only countries where the minimum wage applied to all or part of the private sector were counted as having a minimum wage. This includes minimum wages set through collective agreements that are given the force of law.

Statistics can be broken down by region.

All European countries have either a statutory or a collectively bargained minimum wage covering at least part of the private sector. In the Americas and the Caribbean, there are only very few exceptions, such as Suriname. There are a few more exceptions in Asia, including Singapore and Brunei, and also in Africa such as Ethiopia, Eritrea or Somalia. Among Arab states, no minimum wage exists in Qatar, Bahrain or the United Arab Emirates.

Figure 2. Proportion of countries with a minimum wage, by region, 2014 or latest available
Source: ILO estimate

Statistics can be broken down by countries’ level of gross domestic product (GDP) per capita. The proportion of countries with minimum wages is slightly higher in high-income and middle-income groups than in low-income groups.

Figure 3. Proportion of countries with a minimum wage, by income group, 2014 or latest available
Source: ILO estimate