cost(s) of living

Yesterday, Andrew posted an announcement for a postdoc position in Paris, at the national medical research institute (INSERM) on Bayesian approaches to high throughput genetic analyses using nonlinear mixed effect models and the comments went ballistic about the low salary attached to this postdoctoral position, namely 2600€ – 3000€. As I have already commented on the rather stale clichés on French academics, let me briefly reflect on the limitations of comparing 3000€ a month in Paris with say $5000 a month in New York City. (Which seems to be at the high end of US postdoc salaries.) First, the posted salaries are “gross” but the French one already excludes the 25% taxes paid by the employer. I do not know if this is the case in the US. Second, comparing absolute values makes little sense imho. Even if the purchasing power parity is about one between France and the US, I think the long term cost of living [as opposed to visiting for a week] is lower here than there. If only because the amount is similar to, if higher than, the starting academic salaries and around the median salary. Interestingly, the same appears to be true for the US, if less favourably for the postdocs there.

3 Responses to “cost(s) of living”

  1. Yeah the US one will need to pay income taxes. NYC specifically has its own income tax (US you are taxed nationally, and then some states have income tax, and NYC has its own on top of that). So not 100% sure, but ballpark it will be around 20% I think. So more like net $4k a month net after taxes.

    Also not sure how health care works in France. In US it is volatile, but I have paid ~$500 to $1200 per month at various jobs for family coverage over the last 10 years IIRC. I saw on one of your comments about kindergarten — while US school is free starting at 5/6, childcare before that is not and can be crazy expensive as well.

    $5k is pretty good for post-docs in the US. For social science ones I am more familiar with, I am guessing a shade under $4k would be the median.

    So while I think it is a shame these positions are not paid more (both in the US and abroad it appears), when considering fringe benefits the Paris position is definitely competitive with typical US post-docs.

    • Thanks, Andrew. On a short term basis, for a young postdoc, I would think the big difference between France and the US is in healthcare expenses, as pointed out by Arnaud. Basic coverage is free and universal, with a low entry cost for additional coverage. OECD ranks France as the most favourable county in terms of healthcare expenses.

  2. Arnaud Guillin Says:

    et puis va te soigner aux etat-unis… :))

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