Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Even the Economist can get it wrong

This morning over breakfast, I pulled out an old Economist magazine (this one from 22 September 2007). There's an article on WuXi PharmaTech, a Chinese pharmaceutical research outsourcer. Here's the statistic that caught my eye: "...and, as in so many other industries in China, labour is cheap. Starting salaries for a PhD are $23,000 a year, compared with $200,000 a year in America, according to UBS, an investment bank."

Wow... if UBS really provided that, you'd think an investment bank could do better research. Starting salaries of $200,000 a year for a PhD! Feh! Not in this world. I just don't see it. Perhaps Lilian will disillusion me of my skepticism that even pharmatech doesn't pay that much to starting PhDs, but...

And, with articles that offhandedly provide such statistics, I can imagine why the general public might think all PhDs are overpaid, spoiled complainers, rolling in wealth and benefits. I just don't see it.

5 comments:

Greg Weeks said...

I'm guessing they are referring to Ph.D.s in Business, Finance, Management, etc. which can fetch over $100,000 as an Asst. Prof. because of a shortage. If they go into the private sector, they make even more.

ArticulateDad said...

Hi Greg. I realize that some fields are far more lucrative than others, but the quote states "starting salaries" for a PhD in America. Given the context, I would assume they are referring specifically to pharmaceutical researchers. I find it hard to believe however that the average starting salary for a PhD in Biochemistry is anywhere near $200k/year! I could be wrong. But I don't think so.

Laura said...

I can say for sure that starting salaries for Ph.D.'s in Computer Science--even in industry are no where near $200,000. In a quick google search, I also see no evidence for Ph.D. salaries at that level, even in the business world.

ArticulateDad said...

I added a link to the actual article online. So the question is, was it just careless journalism? Maybe Hong Kong dollars?

Who benefits from that sort of reporting though? I really don't know.

ArticulateDad said...

No... couldn't be Hong Kong dollars. HK$200,000 comes out to about US$26,000, not what I'd expect Pharmatech to hire beginning PhDs. The mystery remains.