People say money doesn’t buy happiness and that’s a very true statement… to an extent. There’s more to life than just the power of the dollar, but the reality is that money definitely plays a significant role in our ability to find some semblance of satisfaction with life. Being able to make a decent living affords us the things in life that we not only need, but crave.
Comfort and peace are not just found in the intangible aspects of life like the love in family, friends and significant others. It’s also found in the material parts that bring us a sense of serenity and accomplishment like a home, a car, vacations and things we desire. They may take a back seat to important ideologies, but they are a part of why we get up and go to work every day. They are the reasons why we study throughout our lives to obtain an education that gets us to the career we aspire for. They are why we work jobs that we don’t necessarily care for or love with passion.
People from all walks of life the world over wake up and do something for the better part of their day earning a living. The money we make helps us afford a certain lifestyle. It’s the single most important aspect of whether or not you can get the finer things in life you desire. But a major component to this is also where you live. The country you reside in makes for a significant factor in whether or not you will be able to afford a house and a car or simply be able to put food on the table of a home you have to share with family.
There are several varying factors like economy, population, technology, government and more that determine a country’s average salary. Although there is no one way to measure this metric because of the complexities involved, this is a compiled list of developed country’s salaries factoring in several variables. Here are ten countries with the highest salaries as well as ten more with some of the lowest.
20 HIGHEST: Belgium - A globalized approach is the key
Coming in tenth on the list is Europe’s Belgium with an average salary of $49,600 annually for its residents. The country enjoys a high standard of living because of its economy which has adopted a globalized approach rather than focusing on its internal workings.
Its main economic force is the transport industry as it consistently ranks amongst the world’s leaders in trade. Its working class enjoys strong salaries because of their trade work in industries like machinery, equipment, chemicals, diamonds, metals and food production. Annual salaries for the people of Belgium come out to a monthly income of $4,100.
19 LOWEST: Mexico - One of the lowest of them all
With a population of over 120 million people, it is surprising that Mexico ranks toward the very bottom of developed countries in terms of salaries. With such a large number of people, it is often a given that the consensus as a whole helps boost the economy. In Mexico’s case, the economy is one of the largest in the world, but its lack of laws protecting its workforce has resulted in huge disparities between the wealthy and working class.
With most of its workers in the service industry, the yearly salary averages out to $19,300, amounting to a mere $1,600 a month.
18 HIGHEST: Ireland - high-paying, big brand companies
Home to the fastest growing economy in all of Europe, Ireland’s people enjoy an annual average salary of $51,700. Considered one of the more developed countries in the world, most of its workforce enjoys working for international companies based outside of its borders. It is also home to a significant number of workers within the technology sector which brings in high paying jobs for companies like Google, Facebook and Microsoft.
The average monthly income comes out to about $4,300.
17 LOWEST: Hungary - a wide gap in income equality
With a mere $22,900 a year, Hungarians are forced to contend with small salaries in a country with a wide gap in income equality. A major part of the country’s company ownership is privatized which has left many of the average workers contending with smaller salaries to the tune of $1,900 a month.
Hungary’s biggest industries are food processing, the automobile industry, electronics and the service sector, many of which are struggling to keep up with the rest of the world.
16 HIGHEST: Australia - Education and finance sectors make the big bucks
Considered the thirteenth strongest economy in the world, it’s no wonder the average salary its residents enjoy rank among the highest in the world. One of the few advanced economies to not experience a major hit during the global recession a decade ago, Australia was able to maintain a strong workforce through its force in exports of goods and tourism.
Many of its workers enjoy great salaries in the education field and the financial sector with a yearly salary of $52,100.
15 LOWEST: Latvia - it's a struggle
One of the hardest hit European countries by the recession of 2009, Latvia is still feeling the effects of its economic downturn. Slow to recover, its working class which mainly works in the private sector bring in a monthly average wage of under $1,900.
With salaries amounting to a little over $22,000 a year, Latvians struggle to maintain high standards of living with many of its people having to work more than one job to meet their needs.
14 HIGHEST: Denmark - the country is closing the wage gap
With an annual income averaging out to $52,600, the people of Denmark enjoy a high quality of life because of the country’s commitment to closing the wage gap. Denmark has the highest minimum wage in the world with workers in jobs like the fast food industry making the equivalent of $20 dollars an hour. Workers also get to take advantage of paid vacation, parental leave and great retirement packages making for a happy workforce at nearly $4,400 a month.
13 LOWEST: Lithuania - The numbers are really low here
Lithuania has suffered from a significant drop in their employment rate which started during the recession a decade ago. The hit to the country’s workforce has led to a weakened economy, resulting in lower wages than what it was used to seeing in decades past. Although the cost of living is lower than most other countries in Europe which helps alleviate the struggles seen by its residents, Lithuania still has one of the lowest annual wages at around $23,000 per year.
12 HIGHEST: The Netherlands - Universal healthcare is a bonus
Largely boosted by its social constructs such as public higher learning, universal healthcare and welfare programs, its workforce takes advantage of these benefits resulting in one of the most prosperous countries in the world, often ranking towards the top in quality of living. With much of its workforce being among the most educated, its people enjoy monthly salaries amounting to an average of $4,400 monthly.
11 LOWEST: Slovakia - Live nicely on small numbers
Although the average yearly income for those living in Slovakia only sits at $23,500, its residents actually maintain a high standard of living. Despite the low incomes seen in the country, Slovakia has a strong welfare state providing its people with access to healthcare and education to go along with paid leave for its workforce. Costs of living are extremely low which offsets the lower wages seen by its workers, many of whom have jobs in the auto industry, one of the largest in the world.
10 HIGHEST: Norway - Plus a year of paid parental leave
With an economy that combines a healthy capitalist and social state, benefiting both from public welfare programs like a year of paid parental leave as well as free-market growth, Norwegians have benefitted with some of the best salaries in the world.
With a strong workforce in shipping and industries specializing in the country’s natural resources, workers earn nearly $54,000 a year.
9 LOWEST: the Czech Republic - welfare fixes the gaps
Energy, transportation and IT have helped the Czech Republic build a strong economy that has propelled it to one of the lowest unemployment rates in all of Europe. Despite these strong qualities in its economy, its workforce sees an annual salary that averages a low $23,700.
Even with a smaller wage, its residents still see a high quality of life because of the cost of living and welfare programs afforded to citizens.
8 HIGHEST: Iceland - tourism is growing rapidly
With a population that falls short of 350,000, Iceland’s economy takes advantage of the small number of residents allowing it to use its vast natural resources to sustain its growth. Although the country took a major hit during the recession, resulting in severe economic downturns, it has managed to bounce back after a resurgence in the tourism industry.
Considered one of the more advanced nations in the world, its workforce is very educated and enjoys a monthly income of $4,700.
7 LOWEST: Portugal - Took a recession hit
One of the hardest hit countries in Europe by the global recession a decade ago, Portugal has been slow to recover. Requiring a bailout, it had a major impact on the job outlook of its residents resulting in a mere $24,500 salary a year on average. Despite ranking far behind other European nations in salaries, Portugal still matches them in quality of life.
6 HIGHEST: Switzerland - Dreaming of that Swiss lifestyle
With annual average salaries exceeding $60,000 a year, the list is now starting to hit some incredible wages that allow residents to live a lifestyle that most of the world likely envies. At the third highest in the world, Switzerland’s economy often tops several lists of best economies supported by a workforce that is strong in the tech industry with higher educational backgrounds.
Often considered the country with the highest quality of living because of its combination of high salaries and access to many social programs, Switzerland’s residents get to really stretch their monthly wages that exceed $5,000.
5 LOWEST: Greece - Extremely high unemployment
A big portion of Greece’s jobs is centered on the service and tourism industry which brings down the overall average salary as many of these jobs are low paying. Despite having one of the lower average annual salaries at only $25,100 a year, Greece still ranks among the best in the world when it comes to quality of living.
Another major factor in the country’s low wages is the impact seen on the job market by its unemployment rate, often exceeding 20%, one of the highest in the world.
4 HIGHEST: United States - A diverse yet wealthy nation
At $60,200 per year, USA ranks toward the top for salary averages. This is made possible by the United States having what is considered the strongest and most competitive economy in the world. Despite having one of the highest populations on the planet, its incredible strength in just about every major industry in existence allows most US workers to thrive.
With high costs of living relative to other countries on the list, the dollar does not stretch as far for some locals, although quality of life is often seen among the best.
3 LOWEST: Poland - Low wages, high quality of life
The only country in Europe to avoid being affected by the great recession a decade ago, Poland has a high quality of life despite its residents making some of the lower wages of any advanced nation. With a big part of its economy largely dependent on natural resources and the food industry, many of the jobs that its people employ are lower paying, resulting in the annual income of only $25,900.
2 HIGHEST: Luxembourg - the highest wages in the world.
At nearly $63,000 a year, Luxembourg’s average yearly salary puts it atop the list, outranking all other countries, nearly a couple thousand ahead of the United States. With a very educated workforce heavy in the finance industry, workers enjoy the highest wages in the world.
With its small population of only a little over half a million, the economy is strongly boosted by innovation in technology and banking.
1 LOWEST: Chile - One job often isn't enough
With just over $28,000 a year, Chileans take home about $2,300 a month, but have to contend with high poverty rates due to shortages in labor forces in some of its most important industries including construction, agriculture and mining.
Many of the country’s workforce depends on its social programs while it also suffers from high unemployment rates, resulting in a hit to its income averages, making Chileans choose between working several jobs to make ends meet or living below the poverty line.