14 September 2012

UBS Study: Oslo, Tokyo and Zurich are the most expensive cities in the world

- Highest net wages in Zurich, Geneva and Luxembourg 
Paris, Lyon and Copenhagen have the shortest working hours 

Zurich/Basel - 14 September 2012 - The 15th edition of the "Prices and Earnings" study from UBS examines wage purchasing power in 72 cities around the globe. To ensure the global comparability of the study, the data collected for each country in local currency was converted into a single, common currency. The euro and the US dollar have depreciated considerably against various currencies since 2009, leading to major discrepancies with the prices and earnings levels calculated by UBS in some cases. 

Oslo, Tokyo and Zurich are the most expensive cities in the world, according to the prices for a standardized basket of 122 goods and services. When rents are added to the mix, New York, Hong Kong and Dubai jump up in the list. By contrast, the cost of living is lowest in the Indian cities of Delhi and Mumbai. 

The highest gross wages are earned by workers in Zurich, Geneva and Copenhagen. After deduction of taxes and social security contributions, however, Luxembourg overtakes Copenhagen due to the higher level of deductions in the Danish capital. Delhi and Mumbai bring up the rear of the earnings rankings, where workers receive only around six percent of the average Zurich wage. 

Salaries go farthest in Zurich, where the net hourly wage buys the most goods and services from our standardized basket in international comparison. How much a wage is actually worth is best described by comparing purchasing power in relation to goods that are as homogenous as possible around the globe. Thus, in Tokyo it takes nine minutes of work to earn enough to buy a Big Mac, while in Nairobi it takes 81 minutes. Workers in Zurich can buy an iPhone after 22 hours work; in Manila, by contrast, it takes around 20 times longer. 

Shortest working hours in Paris, Lyon and Copenhagen: People work the most in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and South America, at over 2,000 hours per year. The shortest working hours and highest number of days of paid vacation are enjoyed by workers in Western Europe. In South America, the picture is mixed: in Mexico City, workers receive the lowest number of paid days off out of all the cities surveyed, with an average of six days vacation a year, while their colleagues in São Paulo and Rio Janeiro enjoy considerably more, with an annual vacation entitlement of 30 days on average. 

Source: UBS AG