Nature India | Indigenus

Salary and satisfaction

The 24 June, 2010 issue of Nature will talk about some interesting results that came out from its first ever international career and salary survey conducted on scientists and postdocs in 16 countries, including India.

The results are a showcase of how ‘satisfied’ our scientists are from across the world.

Some results for emerging superpowers such as India and China reflect the trends in these ‘in-trasition’ countries. For example, one question on whether scientists are ‘satisfied’ with their jobs or not found Japanese scientists not so happy, with only a very small percentage of respondents saying that they were “very satisfied”. While India and China also had low satisfaction ranking scores, in a separate question, a higher percentage of respondents from China and India reported increased overall job satisfaction in the past year as compared with respondents from most other countries.

The survey concludes that although such dissatisfaction can cause brain drain, the signs of improving satisfaction among scientists in China and India could ‘stem the tide’. As these countries become well-supported research hot-spots, the brain drain may increasingly turn into ‘brain circulation’. This is an interesting observation that could be used by policy makers of this country to harness the scientific manpower resource. The survey, however, has also taken into account the fact that residents of some countries and regions may be predisposed, for cultural or lifestyle reasons, to report lower satisfaction or happiness levels regardless of profession.

Another index — purchasing power parity (PPP) which takes into account costs of living — shows that the relative salaries in India have got a huge boost. Average industry salaries exceeded average academic salaries by 50% in Asia and by 40% in europe and North america.

When the survey compared salaries on the basis of gender, it was found that men’s salaries were 18% to 40% higher than women’s in the countries with significant sample sizes — Australia, Germany, Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom, India, Japan, canada and the United states. Despite such discrepancies, overall job satisfaction levels among male and female researchers were remarkably similar. India, however, was found be an exception — 62% of men reported being very or somewhat satisfied, compared to 45% of women (though the sample of female Indian researchers was modest).

The top three satisfaction drivers were guidance received from superiors or coworkers, salary and degree of independence in that order. The percentage of respondents who said that they were “satisfied” or “somewhat satisfied” with their degree of independence was less than 60% for only three countries — China, India and Japan. That again could be a cultural trait in Asian countries.

An interesting observation came from the ‘two-body problem’ question — the challenge researcher couples face in finding jobs together. The problem seemed lower for Asian countries including India.

More information on the methodology of the survey will be available at go.nature.com/aSZqch once the survey goes live.

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