Wages and prices in the interwar-period Lithuania (1)


Although Lithuania adopted the euro in 2015, we still remember, compare and convert prices and wages into litas. The cost of living, economic situation and political decisions are in a constant change, and so are prices and wages. However, today we would like to offer you a look into older times, when the litas, adopted in 1922, was still in circulation. What situation was in Lithuania almost 100 years ago? What was the cost of living? What wages did people earn?

During 18 years of the first period of independence, the situation, naturally, was also changing and differed from one year to the next. We will provide you with a couple of examples, mostly focusing on Lithuania at its peak, in 1930s. And even then, wages were changing a lot and could greatly vary in different private institutions. Therefore, we would like to emphasise that we are only trying to present average wages during a particular time period.

In dividing national income, Lithuania’s rate was 140 US dollars per capita in 1930 (compared to 221 US dollars in Latvia and 214 US dollars in Estonia. At the time, the richest in Europe were Brits with 502 US dollars and the Swiss with 493 US dollars). According to this indicator, Lithuania ranked 20th in Europe. In 1932, the monthly cost of living for adults in Lithuania stood at 74.45 litas, while for a family of five – at 187.5 litas.

The average wage of agriculture workers (men) in 1939 reached 345 litas (maintenance costs excluded), that of qualified employees for 8 working hours stood at 11.60 litas in 1930, whereas of unqualified workers – at 8.30 litas. Salaries of civil servants were broken down into 18 categories (from a guard to the secretary-general of a certain ministry) and the main salaries ranged from 250 litas to 1200 litas. The President earned a 4000 litas (representation expenses and payments for the apartment, fuel and services excluded), whereas ministers used to earn 2500 litas (representation expenses also excluded). Private lawyers could earn 5000 litas a month, whereas doctors – even up to 7000 litas.