As AOC Heralds Denmark McDonald's Minimum Wage, Here's How Much a Big Mac Costs There

McDonald's workers in Denmark and the costs of the country's Big Macs have once again been brought into the debate around whether the U.S. should more than double the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

New York congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who has long advocated for the wage hike, condemned the decision by the Democrats to not include a rise in hourly pay in their COVID-19 bill, while mentioning what workers in the European country make.

"It is utterly embarrassing that 'pay people enough to live' is a stance that's even up for debate," Ocasio-Cortez tweeted.

"Override the parliamentarian and raise the wage. McD's workers in Denmark are paid $22/hr + 6 wks paid vacation. $15/hr is a deep compromise—a big one, considering the phase in."

Ocasio-Cortez's figures are correct and McDonald's workers in Denmark make around $22 an hour as a result of heavily unionized de facto minimum wages set in the country, on top of other benefits.

A 2014 opinion piece on Reuters, entitled "I'm making $21 an hour at McDonald's. Why aren't you?" also states that employees younger than 18 make the equivalent of $15 in Denmark—more than double what many adults in America earn working at the fast-food chain at the current minimum of $7.25.

One argument that is frequently brought up against the raising of the minimum wage to $15 is the suggestion that it will have a knock-on effect and the prices at affordable fast-food restaurants such as McDonald's and Taco Bell will also substantially increase.

In rebuke, many use the price of a Big Mac in Denmark as proof that such claims are unwarranted. On social media, a number of Twitter users state that the cost of a Big Mac is around $5.15, compared to $4:80 in the U.S.—even with the vastly different staff wages.

“Raising the wages means your food will cost a lot more!!!!!😱😱😱”

...No... no it doesn’t mean that at all... 👇🏼👇🏼

Big Mac in USA: $4.80
Big Mac in Denmark: $5.15

McDonalds worker salary in USA: $7.25
McDonalds worker salary in Denmark: $22#Force15Vote

— 💥ℝ𝕌𝕋ℍ𝕃𝔼𝕊𝕊 𝔸ℙ𝕆𝕃𝕃𝕆🏴🚩 (@realCEOofANTIFA) March 2, 2021

However, the $5.15 figure appears to have come from The Economist's Big Mac Index from 2014—a "light-hearted guide" to compare different currencies using purchasing-power parity theory. The Big Mac Index is not a rigorous study, and is more of a gimmick than an official measure of Big Mac prices.

Indeed, the most recent Big Mac Index even states the burger currently costs around $4.87 in Denmark, cheaper than the average $5.66 cost in the U.S.

While not a true measure of the cost, the Big Mac Index does seem to fairly accurately show the price of a Big Mac.

In a 2020 opinion piece for The New York Times, Nicholas Kristof noted how a Big Mac "flipped by $22-an-hour workers isn't even that much more expensive" than an American one.

"Big Mac prices vary by outlet, but my spot pricing suggested that one might cost about 27 cents more on average in Denmark than in the United States. That 27 cents is the price of dignity," he added.

While the cost of a Big Mac in Denmark has not massively altered as a result of the minimum wage hike, the country still has a very high cost of living compared to the U.S., as well as higher tax brackets

As noted by Numbero, the price of an average McMeal in the Danish cities of Aalborg, Copenhagen and Arhus comes to around $12 to $13. In Denmark, taxes are included in list prices, unlike in the U.S.

big mac
In this photo illustration, a McDonald's Big Mac and french fries are seen on a tray on April 30, 2018 in Miami, Florida. Joe Raedle/Getty

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