Geographical Differential - Meaning & Definition

Published by MBA Skool Team, Last Updated: December 10, 2013

What is Geographical Differential?

Geographic Differential is the pay variation of the same job across different geographic locations.

Geography or the physical location of the employee’s job plays a role in determining the pay levels for the job. The geographic definitions used are mainly cities, states, broad region or territory, country etc. To control costs the company bases its pay variations on verifiable differences in competitive salary levels, i.e. pay is more in areas where the market is higher that national average and vice versa.

Geographic Differentials should not be confused with Cost of Living as the company’s compensation philosophy intends to pay competitively and not on the employee’s living expenses. The two however are related (Cost of Living is the cost of goods in one location relative to another, whereas Geographic Differential is cost of labour in out location relative to another). According to compensation consultants Culpepper and Associates three common methods are used to implement Geographic Differentials:

  • Different salary structures in different locations
  • Individual adjustments to base salaries
  • Supplemental geographic differential payments

Also, according to Culpepper factors used to calculate the Geographic Differentials are mainly local salary surveys (cost of skill in market), local cost of living, inflation, unemployment or employment data etc.

Geographic Differentials are expressed as percent of the base-line data point. For example if by research it is learnt that a particular geographic location pays 75% of national average for a job, then Geographic Differential would be -25% and Geographic Differential Ratio would be 75%.

Hence, this concludes the definition of Geographical Differential along with its overview.

This article has been researched & authored by the Business Concepts Team. It has been reviewed & published by the MBA Skool Team. The content on MBA Skool has been created for educational & academic purpose only.

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