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European researcher salaries: varied and lagging behind

A recent European Commission study, Remuneration of Researchers in Public and Private Commercial Sectors, reveals a striking disparity in researchers' salaries across Europe, the average being 23,000 euro less than the average in the US. The EU also performs worse in researcher salaries than Australia, India, and Japan.

Covering both net and gross salaries of researchers from different sectors and of different ages, the study cited variations in Europe ranging from an average EUR 9 800 in Bulgaria to EUR 46 500 in Switzerland. There were also large differentials in female and male researcher salaries in Europe, particularly in Estonia, Portugal, and the Czech Republic (35%). Finally, the prospects of salary raises were much higher in certain countries than in others. In the UK, a salary could increase as much as 335% whereas in Denmark, 90% increase would be the plateau.

This study figures into the recent European momentum to strengthen researcher conditions in Europe and render the European research area more attractive. Though the figures look disappointing for Europe, DG Research of the European Commission notes that Europe’s lower results are due to that fact that average salaries are expressed in PPP (purchasing power parity). To address researcher conditions, the Commission plans to publish in April 2008 a Communication regarding researchers' mobility and career development, including fair employment conditions, pensions, social security, and childcare. This should be accompanied with the launch of a ‘researchers passport’ (part of a new plan to modernise the single market) and further initiatives to develop a legal framework for pan-European research infrastructures, a hot topic at the recent Lisbon Summit.

Green Paper on the ERA

Modern single market plan and researchers passport