Pay and income

29 March 2020

Pay and income are central to employment relations and quality of life. The issue has received even more attention at EU level due to crisis-inflicted developments in the economy and in society as a whole.


The proposed European Pillar of Social Rights sets out the EU’s commitments on wages: the right of workers to fair wages that provide for a decent standard of living; ensuring adequate minimum wages; preventing in-work poverty.

Eurofound’s work

Eurofound reports regularly on various aspects of pay and income in light of changing economic circumstances across Europe.

Pay monitoring

Through its European Observatory of Working Life (EurWORK), Eurofound brings together a range of information on pay. The regular nature of reporting generates a longer series of observations on collectively agreed pay, so that trends can be monitored. Eurofound publishes regular topical updates on statutory minimum wages and collectively agreed pay. It also monitors national-level developments in relation to wage-setting mechanisms, equal pay, variable pay, low pay and the gender pay gap.

Working life country profiles contain information on pay at national level and are regularly updated. EurWORK maintains two databases on pay (see resources below).

Eurofound's European Jobs Monitor (EJM) assesses shifts in employment by job, according to various qualitative measures including pay. In particular, it contributes to our knowledge on the phenomenon of employment polarisation – that is, the extent to which employment growth is likely to be greater at the top and bottom of the wage distribution than in the middle.  

Survey data

Eurofound’s surveys also monitor pay conditions in the EU. Pay is central to Eurofound’s research in assessing quality of work. In the European Working Conditions Survey (EWCS), earnings  is one of seven indicators of job quality. The EWCS also reports on the gender pay gap. Explore the EWCS interactive data visualisation tool.

The European Quality of Life Survey (EQLS) monitors the impact of income on living standards and how income inequality is related to social cohesion and well-being. It analyses how the crisis has affected families, looking at low-income families, household debt and those groups at risk of poverty. The EQLS also gathers information on income in retirement and options for extending working lives. Explore the EQLS interactive data visualisation tool.

The European Company Survey (ECS) captures the use of variable pay schemes in establishments, as well as the coverage of the employees in those establishments by collective wage agreements. The survey allows to link the information on variable pay and wage bargaining with information on work organisation, human resource management, direct employee participation and social dialogue, as well as with performance and workplace well-being.

Further research will look at the issue of wages as a key aspect of inclusive labour markets. Eurofound will explore the concept of a living wage, which differs from statutory minimum wages or minimum income schemes. The research will investigate how this has been implemented or advocated as a means to provide an adequate income allowing a decent standard of living and full participation in society.


Ongoing work

  • Addressing household over-indebtedness
  • Flagship report on industrial relations covering topics related to both social dialogue and working life developments, including updates on collectively agreed pay
  • Updated time series and update on developments in collectively agreed pay.


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