International PPP for faculty salaries

by on March 22, 2012 at 2:28 pm in Data Source, Education, Uncategorized | Permalink

Not exactly what I would have thought:

Canada comes out on top for those newly entering the academic profession, average salaries among all professors and those at the senior levels. In terms of average faculty salaries based on purchasing power, the United States ranks fifth, behind not only its northern neighbor, but also Italy, South Africa and India.

You will note however that this is not covering the extreme right hand tail of top faculty salaries in top U.S. universities, but rather a measured mean from public institutions.  There is more here, hat tip goes to Jacob Levy.  In percentage terms, the biggest gap between entry salaries and top salaries is found in China.  There is much more data here.

1 improbable March 22, 2012 at 3:22 pm

Where do they get PPP conversion factors from? I am really asking, and their website doesn’t seem to say.

I ask because I had the impression that these factors were usually worked out by people focusing in poverty, and thus measuring a bundle of goods which presumably is a poor reflection of what the average professor buys. It seems that for India, rice and dal will be a lot cheaper than in the US, but cars & airconditioners much less so.

2 rjs March 22, 2012 at 6:41 pm
3 Joe March 22, 2012 at 3:27 pm

In India the professors also get addressed as Sir Dr., but they have to live in India. Outsourcing to Raj on Big Bang Theory: “Hot, Loud, and So Many People…” Could be a Thomas Friedman book..

4 eoJ March 22, 2012 at 5:37 pm

How provincial!
When would the whites learn to handle “equal” blacks?
Never I guess.

5 Anon March 22, 2012 at 3:37 pm

I think that professors in Canada are part of CUPE (Canadian Union (of?) Public Employees). Yay for monopoly power!

6 James March 22, 2012 at 4:19 pm

Canadian professors are represented by the Canadian Association of University Teachers.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canadian_Association_of_University_Teachers

7 Dave March 22, 2012 at 4:42 pm

This might be correct depending on what you mean by “represented by”, but there is no nation-wide collective bargaining. CAUT is more like a lobbying/advocacy group, it’s not a union.

8 bartman March 23, 2012 at 9:40 am

“I think that professors in Canada are part of CUPE”

Your powers of thought are severely lacking. Every university in Canada negotiates with the faculty association at that university to set salary, benefits, work terms, etc.

Just like in the US. Except in the US most university faculty associations are chapters of the AAUP, whereas im Canada there is no national affiliation of faculty associations. As mentioned elsewhere, CAUT is basically a lobbying group.

9 PPP-addict March 22, 2012 at 3:38 pm

Many years ago, I examined the PPP methodology. If I remember correctly, the figures are calculated by the UN’s International Comparison Programme, and they use a bundle of ~150 goods and services that purport to represent the economy as a whole (and not a bundle of goods consumed by poor people). Whether there is systematic error is anybody’s guess, but I’d say that probably yes.

10 dearieme March 22, 2012 at 3:46 pm

Do talk to a young Italian about how to get an academic job in Italy. It ain’t what we are used to in the Anglosphere.

11 GiT March 22, 2012 at 3:53 pm

Based on only one experience, which could be entirely unrepresentative, I got the sense it had a bit to do with noblesse oblige…

12 the spam robots are getting better and better March 23, 2012 at 1:38 am

the system is similar to Canada. The chosen ones sail through tenure committees with 0 publications, others are sol despite 4-5 articles published per year. of course it wouldnt do for Canadians to admit that.

13 A Scientist March 23, 2012 at 12:08 pm

Actually the Canadian system has little resemblence to the corrupt Italian system, but is probably much more like the US, but with higher overall tenure rates.

14 Yarric March 22, 2012 at 4:09 pm

From what I could gather from their data collection, this is a very incomplete study. It seems to consider “entry” level jobs as being full time, often tenure track positions, and it does not count part time/adjunct positions (though it isn’t clear to me). Given that a large number of aspiring academics start as adjuncts, and that some countries use much more adjunct staff than others, leaving that data out seems very suspect.

15 Bill March 22, 2012 at 4:57 pm

Apparently there is no efficient market for economists because they would all otherwise migrate to Canada.

And they could get free healthcare, too.

16 msgkings March 22, 2012 at 6:07 pm

NOTHING is free, even healthcare in Canada.

17 Bill March 22, 2012 at 8:08 pm

I know, but then you have to question the index, don’t you.

18 JWatts March 23, 2012 at 9:59 am

Or perhaps there are a very limited supply of jobs for economists in Canada and they are all preferentially given to Canadians?

19 Brad March 22, 2012 at 6:13 pm

It only looked at public universities, meaning that in the US a huge portion (most?) of the higher-paying jobs were not included in the sample. Given that the US is an extreme outlier in the number of faculty employed in private universities, I am dubious about this claim.

I also wonder about the compression of salaries in places like the UK, where at the entry-level it really doesn’t matter where you are, you’re getting a similar salary. Contrast that to someone with an AP job at Cal or Michigan and Western Georgia State or a community college…

20 bartman March 23, 2012 at 9:45 am

What makes you think that private schools pay higher salaries? The better the school, the less they have to offer in cash remuneration, because of the associated reputational benefits.

I have worked at two large state schools, and was shocked to learn what my Ivy-league counterparts were being paid.

This is different at the very high end, but not for the first 60 or 70th percentile.

21 Andy March 23, 2012 at 2:08 am

Well this makes me glad I dropped out of grad school. Is $88k really a “top” salary in the US?

22 JWatts March 23, 2012 at 10:05 am

No, not even close.

23 JWatts March 23, 2012 at 10:14 am

For reference, here’s a site with Salaries for college professors at Middle Tennessee State University. This is an average school in a state that’s probably in the lower salary range for the US.

http://salaries.tbr.edu/salaries?i%5B0%5D=Middle%20TN%20State%20University&ln=&fn=&t=&d=&page=105

Some examples:
ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR Accounting – $107,725
PROFESSOR Womack Family Educational Leadership – $107,873
PROFESSOR Speech and Theatre $149,066

Obviously the PPP adjustments are strongly negative for the US in the study.

24 Ugo March 23, 2012 at 6:18 am

This is interesting, but the data for Italy seem wrong to me. I think that the net entry salary for a “Ricercatore” (assistant professor) is about E1300 (about USD1700) per month (with an extra pay-check at the end of the year, I think). I don’t know what PPP adjustment the author used to get to 3500. However, if you live in Milan or Rome, with E1300 you barely cover rent.

25 Willitts March 23, 2012 at 7:56 am

Grants as a supplement to income?

26 SKY March 23, 2012 at 8:44 am

Faculty salaries are higher in India than US on a PPP basis? A big pointer that the study is using meaningless data. As many others pointed out, the problem must be with the PPP measures.

27 A Scientist March 23, 2012 at 12:10 pm

Why is it obviously wrong that faculty salaries are higher in India than the US? Given the very cheap cost of living in India, this doesn’t seem implausible.

28 SKY March 23, 2012 at 1:28 pm

From simple direct experience. I am contemplating a move back to India and, right now, mentally preparing myself for a drop in standard of living.

29 Joe Heath March 23, 2012 at 9:16 pm

As a Canadian professor, a couple observations. First, lots of us aren’t unionized (in particular, faculty at University of Toronto and McGill are not unionized), and more importantly, faculty at unionized campuses in Canada do not, on average, make more money than faculty at non-unionized campuses in Canada. There was an interesting discussion about this a while back at Worthwhile Canadian Initiative:
http://worthwhile.typepad.com/worthwhile_canadian_initi/2008/11/the-curious-economics-of-university-faculty-unions.html

Second, there are no private universities in Canada (or none worth mentioning). This is important, because the study is comparing only public universities. In the U.S., the fancy faculty earning the top salaries typically migrate to private universities; in Canada they’re all in the public system with nowhere to go. But since we compete with private U.S. universities to retain these people, we wind up paying some pretty big salaries in the public sector.

Third, Canada had a HUGE bubble of faculty retirements in the 90s, and so did a lot of hiring when the dollar was in the $.65-.70 range. I spent a lot of time trying to explain PPP to prospective hires at the time, to persuade them that they should come here even though we were only offering a starting salary 20% over their rival American offer. Typically that didn’t work, and we had to offer 30%-40% more. Those people made out like bandits in the past 10 years.

30 Jack March 24, 2012 at 10:39 am

Like Joe Health, I am a university professor in Canada. A few points, to correct some of the misguided speculation in the comments:
(1) Faculty unions reduce variance between fields, but do not appear to increase or lower average salaries;
(2) Except in Alberta, income and sales taxes are high; disposable income is lower
(3) In Canada health care is paid through income tax; so a correct comparison with the US would add employer-provided health care insurance and other benefits to salary, this makes the US look better
(4) Canadian universities are more often urban than rural, while many good public US universities are rural or suburban; purchasing power for Canadian faculty is lower; for example I live in a medium-plus-size city and with my faculty salary I cannot afford to live near the university
(5) Not only are there no significant private universities in Canada, but also universities tend to be fewer and larger. As Joe Heath pointed out, both these aspects mean salaries will appear to be higher in Canada (they are, but not once you adjust for university type)

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