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Embracing Global Diversity: Evolving Cost of Living Basket

25 Jun 2024 01:40 | Sharon Michnay (Administrator)

For those involved in expatriate management and HR, the cost of living basket is a practical tool. It's a collection of essential goods and services that compare living costs across regions.

As an Asian talent mobility membership association, we have an appreciation for ECA's commitment to updating and maintaining a representative cost of living (COL) basket. This tool has evolved to better reflect diverse global consumer habits, particularly those from Asian and non-US cultures, compared to its previous iteration that included items like canned corned beef and DVD rentals. ECA's basket now includes over 170 items, ranging from tennis balls to various fruits and vegetables, providing a comprehensive overview of living expenses, excluding accommodation and education. This makes it a valuable resource for talent mobility work.

The blog post "From Blockbuster to Netflix: the evolution of ECA's COL basket" offers an enjoyable article filled with nostalgia and insights into the changing world. The COL basket also mirrors modern consumption trends by incorporating contemporary food items such as frozen pizza, soy milk, and premium ice cream, aligning with healthier and more diverse food choices. Technological advancements are reflected as well, with broadband internet costs and video-streaming subscriptions replacing outdated items like inland postage and DVD rentals. This progression captures the actual cost of living in today's digital age.

To cater to the diverse dietary and lifestyle preferences of expatriates and in consideration of Asia's growing talent mobility, the basket now includes items such as instant noodles, tofu, and sushi rice, reflecting staples from Asian countries. This ensures more accurate cost calculations and fair salary adjustments for expatriates from these regions.

Beyond that, it’s a great read because of its insights into the complexity of maintaining COL data that reflects the existing assignee population and their long-term spending patterns.  

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