It seems that the average salary for researchers in France (see for example here) is much lower than the average salary for professors (with both teaching and research duties) in any other western country (in particular, US, UK, Germany, Switzerland).

Is this difference motivated by substantially lower living expenses (e.g., real estate market, public transport, income taxes) compared to the aforementioned countries?

Where can one find data (or other information) on this topic?


Personally I spent several month in France, but in the form of many short (academic) stays, so I'm not able to evaluate precisely the cost of living permanenty there. However, I'm interested in moving to France, and I'm trying to make an informed choice. Therefore, another question is

Where can one find useful information about living in France aimed precisely at scholars (e.g., dealing with two-body problem)?

  • It would depend a lot on where you live. The pay is (more-or-less) the same but there are huge differences, e.g. in the cost of accommodation. Also the numbers quoted in the article do not seem hugely different from those I know in Germany or the Netherlands (Switzerland is a different world…) but you cannot compare before-tax wages directly, the way it's define and computed are completely different. – Gala Oct 30 '15 at 18:53
  • Finally, income tax in France is low (I repeat because French people constantly complain about it and it runs contrary to everything you hear about France: income tax is low), certainly compared to Switzerland, the Netherlands or Germany (other things like the mandatory contributions to the health insurance system employers have to pay on top of the wage are relatively high). – Gala Oct 30 '15 at 18:53
  • @Gala Thanks for your remarks. It'd be great if you'd expand them in an answer. Let me address some of your points. 1. The areas where I hope to find a position are Lyon or Rennes. 2. I agree that these figures are not hugely different from the ones in UK and Germany (still, they are quite below) and that an after-tax computation is necessary for accuracy. Do you know what (online) resources are there to make an after-tax computation? – user8456 Oct 30 '15 at 19:39
  • 3. Do you happen to know where to find any official data on actual cost of living in Switzerland? It must be extremely high if a PhD student at ETHZ earns (after-tax) almost as much as an end-of-career Director of Research in France. – user8456 Oct 30 '15 at 19:40
  • I have no official figures, just anecdotes. The difference in the cost of living certainly is large but I can't tell you if so big that it would fully explain the difference in compensation. As far as French cities are concerned, no stats either but I think Rennes is on the cheaper side and your money will go further there than in Lyon, let alone Paris. – Gala Oct 31 '15 at 8:48