Australian Researchers’ Mobility Portal

Thursday 7th June 2007

When it comes to earning top dollar, researchers should look no further than Austria, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands. According to the findings of a new study published by the European Commission, these are the countries in Europe offering the highest salaries to their researchers. Salaries in many of the counties of Eastern Europe are less enticing. There, researchers’ wages remain well below the EU average.

The “Study of the remuneration of EU researchers in the public and private commercial sectors” compared the net and gross salaries of researchers at different stages of their careers. It identified four categories of salary: low (up to €20,000 annually), medium (between €20,000 and €30,000); high (between €30,000 and €40,000), and very high (over €40,000).

Taking into account the cost of living in each country, the study found that the best off researchers were those living in Austria (earning €60,530 annually), the Netherlands (€56,721) and Luxembourg (€56,268). These salaries are well above the EU average of €40,126, and are comparable with wages that researchers might expect to earn in the US (€62,793) and Japan (€61,991).

Other Member States offering attractive wages include Belgium (€55,998 annually), Germany (€53,358), the United Kingdom (€52,776) and Cyprus (€50,549).

However, the situation looks a lot less prosperous in other Member States, particularly in the countries of Eastern Europe, where salaries fall way below the EU average. In Bulgaria for example, a researcher might hope to earn €9,770 annually, while in Romania the average salary stands at €13,489.

There is also a startling difference in many of the countries between the pay packets of female and male researchers. The biggest contrast is in Estonia, where a male researcher can expect to earn €23,000, compared to a female researcher who can only hope to earn just under half of this (€12,179). Women researchers also fare badly in the Czech Republic and Portugal, earning some 36% less than men.

The study also looked at which countries offer the best overall salary progression throughout a researcher’s career. In the UK for example, a researcher can expect an incremental increase in their wages of over 235% during their career. In contrast, researchers in Denmark would only see an incremental increase of 90%.

Prestige and notoriety are important aspects in a researcher’s career. But as in any profession, researchers are attracted by a good salary. The study is therefore expected to help researchers benchmark attractive research locations, and at the same time raise awareness of inequalities across Member States.