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CAUT Bulletin Archives

December 2008

Entry-Level Salaries Highest in Canada

Canada leads the world in entry-level academic salaries, says a report by researchers at the Boston College Center for International Higher Education.

The Boston College researchers looked at academic earnings at four-year institutions across 15 countries and adjusted salaries based on purchasing power parity to reflect differences in the cost of living.

By this measure, Canada topped the United States, Australia, Ger­many and the United Kingdom in the average monthly entry-level sa­laries paid to academics. Canada scored second in overall average salaries, ahead of the United States but behind Saudi Arabia, which the report’s authors refer to as an “anomaly.”

Not surprisingly, academics in de­veloping countries such as India, China and Colombia earn far less than their counterparts in developed countries, but not when sa­laries are compared relative to na­tional wealth. For instance, India pays its professors on average 8.7 times its GDP per capita, compared to 2.2 times in Canada.

Nevertheless, the researchers warn that the large discrepancies in pay across countries pose serious challenges for nations in their struggle to hold onto their best talent.

“Salary and remuneration help shape global academic mobility — including such issues as brain
drain and brain gain,” the re­search­ers wrote. “For the world’s lesser-developed countries, there is an ob­vious problem in terms of at­tracting high-quality foreign talent and keeping talented nationals at home.”

But they also noted that rich na­tions face significant challenges in attracting and retaining staff as well, as academic salaries are becoming less competitive when compared to other professions.

“(W)ith few exceptions, the story of how the academic profession compares with other jobs within the national labor markets is not a very happy one, with significant im­plications for the future of the pro­fession,” the researchers reported.

The researchers say that although their review of academic salaries is the most comprehensive to date, they suggest caution in interpreting the data.

They acknowledge in the report that the analysis doesn’t take into account bonuses, benefits and the effects of income and payroll taxes, which limits the understanding of how faculty are compensated around the world.