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What's It Take To Survive

The Living Wage Calculator is a fascinating tool to discover how much money it takes to survive in a particular location. Simply plug in a place and you will see the local minimum wage and comparisons with how much it costs to survive.

The results include varying household sizes and a basic budget. The part I found the most compelling was the listing of industry salaries and whether they are over or under the amount required. Of course the figures are based on a single income family and the results clearly show why there are so many dual earning families.

I can think of several engaging applications in the classroom:

  • Math - comparisons or various scenario extrapolations
  • Geography - determine if geographic features impact financial status
  • Guidance - will the occupation you want to pursue be able to provide for your family, or will you need to move to another location?
  • Sociology - are there connections between location and poverty rates? dual income versus single income, roles in the family
  • Government - compare voting results with economic regions
  • Economics - Another fun project could be to have students pick a career and family size, then cut their budget down to a workable amount under the earning levels they chose.

My only complaint is that the information is derived in one direction. It would be easier to create relationships between information if the data could be searched at all levels. For example, if I wanted to find the areas where health care provides the best wages.

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