I recently went to a talk by a woman from the census who connected the survey of earned doctorates to tax records. She has the entire universe of econ phds for the past 20 years (I’m in there!). Econ PhDs in industry make more than those in academia make more than those in government.
I have more money than I ever dreamed of (though my dreams were small) and more than we actually need. When DH is also working we are not even upper middle class anymore (though there are still multiple marginal tax brackets above us).
Adjusted by quality/prestige of my PhD, my salary is below the median for academics.
In fact, my salary is below the median for academics in the PhD quality/prestige of the bracket below mine.
Should this matter? I don’t know. My friend at a SLAC likes to point out that her salary is way below mine and she’s from the same grad school. And I think if I were to move to a SLAC I’d be ok with a salary cut (and I’d be happy to move to a SLAC so long as it didn’t come with an increase in my teaching load, which is already high for econ).
DH pointed out that part of the problem is that salary is considered an indicator of quality. If you have a “low” salary, how good of an economist can you be? After all, wage equals marginal productivity, doesn’t it? Especially after the labor market has a chance to sort itself out? (Answer: no! That’s completely ignoring search frictions and compensating differentials).
Should I care about prestige? Should I equate salary with being valued? Does it matter when I’m getting paid a ridiculous amount already that others are getting paid even more ridiculous amounts? Would I be more productive if we had more money? Should the fact that DH is also making a lot even enter into my equation?
I go back and forth on these questions. I do like money. And… half of the people do have to be below median. It’s just hard when having a below median salary means people think you’re a below-average economist. You know? And my salary is publicly available.
Does your field equate salary with productivity? Does it equate salary with value? Do you?