A family wage is a wage that is sufficient to raise a family. This contrasts with a living wage, which is generally taken to mean a wage sufficient for a single individual to live on, but not necessarily sufficient to also support a family. As a stronger form of living wage, a family wage is likewise advocated by proponents of social justice. Family wage campaign was aiming to maintain the traditional family structure, as a concept connecting economics and family structure it is one of the examples of how economic structure of family, which is a subject of the field family economics, affects overall economy beyond the family.
The notion of a family wage traditionally proposes a household consisting of a nuclear family with a single wage-earner, namely the man, with the wife staying home and raising the children, and thus the premise that the man's wage should support his wife and their children. This is in contrast to a multi-generation household, consisting also of the previous generation, or to single parent households or dual-earners. With the entry of women into the paid labor force, this model has been complicated, with some households having two wage earners, some one, and others none; see feminist movement for context and discussion.
The term "family wage jobs" has occasional contemporary use in American political rhetoric and is most associated with Catholic intellectuals, in the Catholic social teaching tradition, such as Douglas Kmiec and Allan C. Carlson.
A family wage – a basic wage, with a supplement by family size, was adopted by the dominant trade union in the British Mandate of Palestine (now the state of Israel), Histadrut, in 1923, and remained policy for a decade, but implementation was limited.
In Spain, a family wage has been a key plank in the platform of the Confederación Nacional del Trabajo, an influential confederation of labor unions, in accord with the notion of "to each according to their needs".
If a worker or family does not earn a family wage, they are likely to delay having children and have a smaller family, both due to delayed childbearing and due to choosing to limit number of children due to expense. This has been cited as a factor in decreasing family sizes following urbanization and the industrial revolution in essays dating back to the 1751 Observations Concerning the Increase of Mankind, Peopling of Countries, etc. by Benjamin Franklin.
Further, this leads to differing fertility across income levels, with higher income households (above a family wage) not being as constrained as lower income households.