According to this Wikipedia article, Sweden, Austria, Switzerland, Germany, Denmark, Belgium, and Finland are the top spenders in the R&D sector by PPP per capita.

Does this mean that they pay a higher salary to the PostDoc researchers?

If not, is there any metric to know this?

  • Higher salary compared to what?
    – Sursula
    Feb 1, 2023 at 12:45
  • 1
    In Germany, if you do your postdoc at a university or research institute, you are normally paid according to TVöD/TVL, which is a fixed income for public servants.
    – Sursula
    Feb 1, 2023 at 12:47
  • 2
    Heh heh. How many postdocs can dance on the end of a grant's budget? Just in case that's not clear, if they spend twice as much but have eight times as many postdocs, well... There's some maths involved.
    – Boba Fit
    Feb 1, 2023 at 15:37
  • @Sursula, Compared to the countries which spend less in R&D.
    – user366312
    Feb 1, 2023 at 16:09
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    Obviously you want to research the salary of any potential position you apply for, but you probably also know that most postdocs pay significantly less than comparable positions in industry. So if the salary level is very important to you, don't become a postdoc...
    – Charlotte
    Feb 1, 2023 at 19:45

2 Answers 2


Postdocs are more or less government employees and so in a lot of EU countries, postdoc salaries are publically available so a little bit of digging will usually tell you the exact salary of any position you see advertised.

However, if you only want a quick rule of thumb to compare different European countries I would go with nominal GDP per capita. Yes, cost of living is higher in the wealthier countries as well, but academic salaries usually overcompensate for this (when comparing countries in Europe). The standard of living a postdoc salary buys you in Switzerland or Norway is much higher than in Greece or Portugal.

If cost of living differs a lot within a country the academic salaries usually do not fully account for these differences so living in an expensive city will make you relatively poorer.


R&D spending does not equate to PostDoc salary. A substantial part of the spending is done by private companies in their own facilities, and private companies typically don't hire PostDocs. Some of the spending goes to stuff (supplies, machinery, laboratories, etc.) rather than people. Salaries in many of these countries are not driven by the available budget. If more money becomes available the universities just hire more PostDocs, rather than pay them better.

If you want to know the salary, you just look at the salary. But do take the cost of living into account. Not at the national level, but at the local level of the university you are interested in.

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