Sunday, November 1, 2009

Wage Inequality

Local wages in Honduras 2009

Minimum wage: About $1.75 an hour (though it only specifies a wage total per month)

Housecleaning wage: About $1 an hour not including travel time (1.5-2 hours each way) or expense (about $2)

Housecleaning wage with the above included: About $.65 an hour

Manual labor wage: About $9 a day or $1 an hour

In many local markets or street stalls, vendors have trouble breaking a 100 Lempira bill that is equal to about $5.50.

Elizabeth pays a local adolescent girl about $1.50-2 an hour to sweep and mop our floors twice a week.

I pay my assistant twice her previous salary as a Catholic Church social worker. She receives a "generous" wage of $2 an hour to help me with data collection. I was told by a number of NGO workers not to overpay those helping me as it may lead to: dependency of the individual on a foreigner; jealousy among other community members; it changes power dynamics in the family and society; etc. Although I do not believe all of these are reason enough to underpay someone, I do believe there is some validity in being cautious. In consulation with other Honduran friends, I decided upon the above number.

Lunch including drink can cost anywhere from $3 to $5 per person in the community. Dinner tonight cost Elizabeth and I about $4.50 for us both. I took two Spaniards, who work for a major development NGO in Honduras, out to lunch a couple of weeks ago in Teguc and mistakenly allowed them to decide where we were to eat. It cost me upwards of $45…a valuable but expensive lesson.

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