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Russia Doubles Researcher Salaries in 2018

Enormous implications for the future. A way to avert brain drain and even attract some of the best minds of Ukraine and Belarus

This is the conclusion of recent Higher School of Economics study on researcher salaries in Russia.

Here are the details for Jan-Jun 2018:

  • All workers in scientific organizations: 64,000 rubles ($1,000), up 40% y/y
  • Researchers: 86,000 rubles ($1,300), up 70% y/y
  • Academic staff: 94,000 rubles ($1,500), up 100% (!) y/y

Average salary of all workers at scientific organizations (not just researchers) is now 85% more than for the economy as a whole, while academic staff earn double.

This is highly encouraging, since for most of the post-Soviet period, researchers actually earned less than the average salary, contributing to massive brain drain from academia. As a result, Russia produces less than 1% of the world’s elite level science, or twice less than Poland and China in per capita terms (as proxied by the Nature Index).

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Geographically, the highest academic staff salaries are in Moscow (127,000 rubles = $2,000) and the oil rich regions. The lowest six regions are in the ethnic minority republics of the North Caucasus, with Ingushetia being dead last (42,000 rubles = $650). This is encouraging, because that is how things should be absent ethnic nepotism/affirmative action, considering regional IQ scores, which are also lowest in the South Caucasus – even if Ingushetia does somehow manage to have Russia’s highest concentration of PhDs.

This took way too long to implement, with prior investment under iPhone Idiot Medvedev having focused on showpieces such as Skolkovo while the actual core of the Russian science & tech remained starved of funding.

In Putin’s third term, academic salaries have been steadily augmented, and appear to have leapt upwards to almost internationally competitive levels this year (adjusting for Russia’s lower costs of living). Russian scientists will now be able to compete with the world on a more level footing. Nobody is going to go into Russian academia to get rich – you can still make 250,000 rubles in equivalent high human capital jobs in the private sector in Moscow – but at least it will no longer be a reserve for people not talented enough to make money in business or emigrate for greener pastures abroad.

As I also suggested in a previous thread, this is also a level at which Russia could begin thinking about hovering up Ukrainian (and perhaps Belorussian) researchers, and human capital more generally. Commenter The Big Red Scary, who is in a position to know, says that even student salaries are “significantly better” in Moscow than researcher salaries in Kiev.

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