by Andre on 12 January 2009
Lou Dobbs discusses the relatively low pay received by postdocs compared to others with similar or less education. He suggests that it is the large number of foreign postdocs allowed to work in the country that is driving down salaries and thus providing a disincentive for Americans to pursue careers in science.
I think the process Dobbs describes is basically correct. If Americans cut off the supply of foreign scientists by making it even harder to get visas, postdoc salaries would increase because of the sudden drop in available labour, but at the same time, labs would no longer be getting the best available people and the quality and quantity of science would decrease. Wouldn’t this drop in productivity in American labs make it harder to justify research spending to the government and general population?
So the question isn’t whether cutting off foreign labour would increase salaries, the question is whether that’s a smart thing to do. Should the US increase or decrease the number of foreign scientists it allows into the country? What is the optimum postdoc salary and why?