The emotional and often divisive issue of the federal minimum wage has sparked protests and spurred debates in the American political discussion. Across the world, millions of people in dozens of countries are having similar debates around how much money society's lowest-paid workers should receive for their labor under a national minimum wage.
There is no single minimum wage around the world. And the payment a worker receives, called the statutory minimum wage, can be drastically different than what's known as the real minimum wage. The real minimum wage represents the actual buying power of the worker's salary in relation to an economic indicator called the consumer price index.
The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) represents a group of countries that organize on behalf of global economic progress. OECD developed a list of the real minimum wage in 32 countries where minimum wage information is available. GOBankingRates looked at each country's statutory minimum wage in relation to the OECD real minimum wage, while examining the overall labor and economic climate in each country.
Scroll down to see how much the lowest-paid workers make around the world, as well as the buying power of the minimum wage.
32. Mexico Minimum Wage
- Mexico's real hourly minimum wage: $0.90 USD
Mexico's poorest workers recently received a hefty 10 percent increase in the statutory minimum wage, from 73 pesos up to 80 pesos, to about $4 per hour. Their real minimum wage, however, is the lowest on the OECD's list.
The country also suffers from massive social inequality, with the richest 10 percent of the population earning 20 times more than the poorest 10 percent, according to the OECD. Recently, however, Mexico enacted sweeping reforms across a broad spectrum of issues in an effort to increase wages and eradicate poverty. The changes are already gaining traction and are expected to come to fruition by 2030.
31. Russian Federation Minimum Wage
- Russian Federation's real hourly minimum wage: $1.30 USD
In 2016, Russians received a 20 percent raise in the statutory minimum wage, which increased from the equivalent of about $90 per month to $109 per month. Presuming a 40-hour workweek, that's a little more than 68 cents per hour.
Although Russians work significantly more hours per year than the average OECD country, the Federation has one of the lowest real minimum wages. And, the country's long-term unemployment rate is a whopping 27.3 percent.
30. Brazil Minimum Wage
- Brazil's real hourly minimum wage: $2 USD
At the beginning of 2016, the lowest earners in Brazil got a sizable pay hike of 11.6 percent. That raised the statutory minimum wage to the equivalent of about $4 per hour. Thanks to massive, years-long and endemic political and economic woes, however, the real minimum wage is about half that.
29. Colombia Minimum Wage
- Colombia's real hourly minimum wage: $2.40 USD
In the beginning of 2017, Colombia's labor minister raised the country's statutory minimum wage by 7 percent to the equivalent of about $1.18 per hour. The country's real minimum wage, however, is nearly double that amount. The increase came on the heels of a wave of protests, and eventually walkouts, launched by the country's labor unions.
28. Chile Minimum Wage
- Chile's real hourly minimum wage: $3 USD
In June 2016, the Chilean government began rolling out a staggered increase in the statutory minimum wage, which will continue in four stages through 2018. The increase will eventually result in a minimum wage of the equivalent of $409 per month. Currently, it's in stage two, at $391 per month, where it will remain until July 2017. Presuming a 40-hour workweek, that's about $2.44 an hour.
27. Slovak Republic Minimum Wage
- Slovak Republic's real hourly minimum wage: $3.50 USD
Slovakians follow a 40-hour workweek, and the country's statutory minimum wage is 405 euros, or $453, per month. With 160 working hours in a month, that equals about $2.83 per hour. That's an increase of nearly 30 percent since 2010. In Slovakia, both employer and employee contribute to the worker's Social Security obligations, and each worker maintains a savings account to build a pension.
26. Costa Rica Minimum Wage
- Costa Rica's real hourly minimum wage: $3.70 USD
There is no set statutory minimum wage in the Central American nation of Costa Rica. The country operates on a complex system that assigns four different minimum wages based on the worker's skill level. There are also five different minimum wages that correspond to the worker's education level.
Then, there is an entirely different classification for domestic workers, who can legally be paid less than everyone else. In total, there are 23 different minimum wages, which is down from 72 in 1992 and 520 in 1987.
25. Latvia Minimum Wage
- Latvia's real hourly minimum wage: $3.80 USD
In Latvia, the current statutory minimum wage is roughly the equivalent of $423.87 a month. With a 40-hour workweek, that would come out to about $2.65 per hour. The Baltic state's economy is growing on most measurable fronts, with solid business regulations and openness to global trade, making the country more attractive to entrepreneurs.
24. Lithuania Minimum Wage
- Lithuania's real hourly minimum wage: $3.90 USD
The statutory minimum wage in Lithuania is the equivalent of about $425.09 per month, or about $2.65 per hour based on a 40-hour workweek. The largest of the three countries that make up the Baltic states, Lithuania has recently made efforts to stifle corruption and reduce government spending.
Currently, Lithuania's real hourly minimum wage is $3.90, but a new labor code aims to create more jobs amid 8 percent unemployment rates.
23. Estonia Minimum Wage
- Estonia's real hourly minimum wage: $4.10 USD
Estonia guarantees its lowest-paid workers the equivalent of $3.11 per hour. Once a remote and isolated Soviet outpost, Estonia was long cut off from much of the world. When communism collapsed, each citizen of the tiny Baltic nation was given the equivalent of $10.60 to start their lives over.
Less than 20 years later, it would become the place where Skype was invented. Today, Estonia is fully digital and a model of what Fortune predicts will be Europe's tech future. It's also one of the cheapest countries to live in.
22. Czech Republic Minimum Wage
- Czech Republic's real hourly minimum wage: $4.20 USD
In the Czech Republic, the statutory minimum wage is the equivalent of $456.06 per month. Presuming a 40-hour workweek, that's about $2.85 an hour. The country's private sector has enjoyed significant expansion, thanks to significant recent reform and a steady trend toward globalization since the fall of the Soviet Union and the end of the Czech Republic's communist dictatorship.
21. Hungary Minimum Wage
- Hungary's real hourly minimum wage: $4.40 USD
The lowest-paid workers in Hungary earn the equivalent of roughly $461.96 per month, thanks to the country's statutory minimum wage. Presuming a 40-hour workweek, that's about $2.89 per hour — $4.40, adjusted for inflation.
After tense negotiations between unions and employers, however, the government has agreed to raise wages considerably between now and 2018. The government claims that the wage hike, along with new tax reform, positions Hungary among the world's most business-friendly nations.
20. Portugal Minimum Wage
- Portugal's real hourly minimum wage: $4.50 USD
Portugal's statutory minimum wage is 649.83 euros, or the equivalent of $729.30, per month. Based on a 40-hour workweek, that's about $4.56 per hour, which is roughly the same as the country's real minimum wage. Its current minimum wage is an all-time high, according to Trading Economics, which provides economic data for 196 countries.
19. Greece Minimum Wage
- Greece's real hourly minimum wage: $4.70 USD
The statutory minimum wage in Greece is the equivalent of $635.62 per month. Presuming a 40-hour workweek, that's $3.97 per hour.
Workers and unions in Greece recently rallied and protested against looming austerity measures, which would just be the latest in a long string of economic chaos that has battered the working class. The minimum wage dropped by nearly 20 percent between 2008, when the crisis started, and 2016.
18. Spain Minimum Wage
- Spain's real hourly minimum wage: $5.10 USD
Spain's minimum wage is approximately the equivalent of $923.65 per month. For an employee on a 40-hour workweek, that's about $5.77 per hour.
More than 5.5 million people in Spain earn the minimum wage, and the country's unions want a raise. Spain was among the countries hit the hardest by Europe's recent economic crisis, and the nation has yet to recover. Unemployment continues to hover around 19 percent.
17. Poland Minimum Wage
- Poland's real hourly minimum wage: $5.70 USD
Poland guarantees its workers a minimum of the equivalent of $508.40 per month, or roughly $3.18 per hour on a 40-hour workweek. Poland seems to be emerging from the economic crisis well, with an economy that continues to grow. Wages there rose 4.1 percent between April 2016 and April 2017.
16. Korea Minimum Wage
- Korea's real hourly minimum wage: $5.80 USD
On Jan. 1, 2017, the lowest-paid South Koreans were given a boost from the equivalent of $5.30 per hour to $5.69 per hour. The wage hike benefited 3.36 million workers.
Recently, a newly elected president began his term facing a litany of economic problems, with workers facing stagnant wages and massive household debt, according to The New York Times.
15. Turkey Minimum Wage
- Turkey's real hourly minimum wage: $5.80 USD
The lowest-paid workers in Turkey got a raise in 2017, when the monthly minimum wage increased from $466.63 to $503. In April, Turkey's economy underwent a major shift to a new system that will change the way the government and economy have operated since 1923. The country has recently suffered from high unemployment and high inflation.
14. Israel Minimum Wage
- Israel's real hourly minimum wage: $5.90 USD
The Israeli statutory minimum wage guarantees workers at least $7.48 per hour. Israel recently approved a measure that will increase wages for working parents who have children 6 years old and younger. However, the country also recently came under criticism for a plan to deduct 20 percent from the wages of some working asylum seekers, according to the Jerusalem Post.
13. Slovenia Minimum Wage
- Slovenia's real hourly minimum wage: $7 USD
The statutory minimum wage in Slovenia is the equivalent of roughly $900 per month. Based on a 40-hour workweek, that's $5.63 per hour. Slovenia's economic growth has been stifled by widespread corruption, an inefficient judicial system and political instability. The European economic crisis deeply impacted the country, which has yet to recover.
12. United States Minimum Wage
- United States' real hourly minimum wage: $7.20 USD
The federal minimum wage in the United States has been stuck at $7.25 per hour since 2009. However, many states mandate minimum wages that are higher than the federal requirement.
The minimum wage has been a political flash point in the United States for the last few years, and the topic was featured heavily in the most recent presidential election. Most Democratic politicians support an increase and most Republicans do not. Americans looking to earn more than minimum wage should consider applying to these companies.
11. Japan Minimum Wage
- Japan's real hourly minimum wage: $7.40 USD
Japan operates under a complex system in which the minimum wage varies depending on industry and location, or prefecture. In Tokyo, for example, the statutory minimum wage is currently around $8.11 an hour. In Miyagi, it's roughly the equivalent of $6.49 an hour.
The Japanese enjoy a variety of labor perks. Virtually all employers offer some sort of tax-privileged severance package, and many workers receive family and transportation allowances.
10. Canada Minimum Wage
- Canada's real hourly minimum wage: $8.10 USD
There are 13 different minimum wages in Canada, each of which corresponds to one of the country's 13 provinces. The lowest is in Newfoundland and Labrador, which is the equivalent of roughly $7.76. The highest is in remote and northern Nunavut, where the minimum wage is the equivalent of $9.61.
9. United Kingdom Minimum Wage
- United Kingdom's real hourly minimum wage: $8.40 USD
In the U.K., workers who have reached "school-leaving age" — which varies depending on location — are protected by the minimum wage. Currently, that's the equivalent of about $7.26 an hour. The living wage, however, is the least any employer can pay workers 25 and older. That rate is currently the equivalent of $9.73 per hour.
8. Ireland Minimum Wage
- Ireland's real hourly minimum wage: $5.90 USD
In Ireland, experienced adult workers may not be paid less than the equivalent of roughly $10.34 per hour. Several classes of other workers, however, can. People in their second year of work after they turn 18 receive 90 percent of the minimum wage. Those who have worked for one year past their 18th birthdays get 80 percent. Those under the age of 18 earn 70 percent of the minimum wage.
7. New Zealand Minimum Wage
- New Zealand's real hourly minimum wage: $9.30 USD
New Zealand's lowest-paid workers earn a statutory minimum wage equal to about $11.03 per hour. That, however, is only for adult workers. The country maintains a three-tiered system that also guarantees minimum wages for employees who are "starting out" and "training." Both of those classes currently earn a minimum of $8.83 an hour.
6. Netherlands Minimum Wage
- Netherlands' real hourly minimum wage: $9.90 USD
The Netherlands' minimum wage system works on a sliding scale that grants workers consecutively more money each year between ages 15 and 22, then caps off with a category for 23 and older. The country does not mandate how many hours are in a workweek, but it is generally either 36, 38 or 40.
Currently, the 23-and-older minimum wage is the equivalent of roughly $400 per week. Presuming the median 38-hour workweek, that's about $10.53 per hour.
5. Belgium Minimum Wage
- Belgium's real hourly minimum wage: $10.20 USD
Belgium's statutory minimum wage is roughly the equivalent of $1,713.15 per month. Presuming a 40-hour workweek, that's about $10.71 per hour.
In Belgium, that wage applies to all employees 18 and older. Employees who are 19 with at least six months experience get slightly more. A third bracket represents workers who are at least 20 years old with a minimum of one year experience.
4. Germany Minimum Wage
- Germany's real hourly minimum wage: $10.30 USD
The statutory minimum hourly wage in Germany is 8.84 euros, or about $9.88. By law, Germany's minimum wage is reassessed every two years.
Germany is home to the biggest economy in Europe, and the current wage is an increase that came from the last reassessment. Groups representing the millions of the country's low-paid workers say the increase from 8.5 euros was not enough. Some business groups argue that it was too much.
3. Luxembourg Minimum Wage
- Luxembourg's real hourly minimum wage: $11.00 USD
Luxembourg's minimum wage system works on a scale based on the country's standard minimum wage, which is currently the equivalent of $2,234.76 per month. Based on a 40-hour workweek, that puts the statutory minimum wage at $13.97 per hour.
Workers age 15 to 17 must be paid no less than 75 percent of that. Workers age 18 to 19 must be paid no less than 80 percent. For skilled workers, the minimum wage is 20 percentage points above the social minimum wage.
2. Australia Minimum Wage
- Australia's real hourly minimum wage: $11.10 USD
The statutory hourly minimum wage in Australia is $17.70 Australian dollars, or $13.18 USD. An agency called the Fair Work Commission oversees a specialist organization called the Minimum Wage Panel, which determines the minimum wage every year. The labor system is overseen by a Fair Work ombudsman, who enforces minimum wage standards and levies fines and other punishments against employers who don't abide by the minimum pay rules.
1. France Minimum Wage
- France's real hourly minimum wage: $11.20 USD
The current statutory minimum wage in France is roughly the equivalent of $1,655 per month. Not only does France boast the highest minimum wage in the entire OECD, but the French enjoy a 35-hour workweek, which means they work just under 152 hours per month. That puts their statutory minimum wage at around $10.88 per hour. Even still, the French government faced widespread criticism in 2016 for raising the minimum wage by only 9 cents.
This story originally appeared on GOBankingRates.