# Do income statistics (earnings vs. education) lie?

Discussion in 'Science & Society' started by dixonmassey, Aug 14, 2004.

1. ### dixonmasseyValued Senior Member

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2,151
Well, in the real swamps of academy and governmental research (I know little about industry) scientific excellence is not (unfortunately) the only way to full blown financial/career success. Office politics, salemanship skills, hype skills, ass kissing skills, light fraud skills, etc., etc., etc are very important. That's why I am not sure about "the best stay" part. "The best" in what? If a guy is the best $grant$ getter, he'll stay employed no matter how worthless is his research/results are (money do not smell). If scientific journals will stop publishing worthless, redundant piles of "scientific" publications (necessary for survival, publish crap or perish and near worthless otherwise) I'll buy "the best stay". Secondly, deliberate overproduction of Ph.D.s (to use as cheap labor and throw out) is incredible waste of human lives.

3. ### Axiom79Registered Member

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Apologies for digging this one up but I joined the thread late. I think it's perfectly fair to say this, but at the same time it's almost as if you are being punished for your qualifications/knowledge. You may not enjoy the prospect of truck driving for a living, but it's highly likely that someone who has chosen this as a career does (assuming that they would re-train for another career if they didn't). If, in addition, you both work equally hard in your chosen careers, how is it justifiable that somebody receives significantly greater financial reward for one by comparison to the other?

Also, to raise a discussion I've had many times with my father, I don't believe that unintellectual work should be as well paid as more intellectually orientated vocations. My simple justification for this is, to use a very poor choice of words, 'expendibility'. I would like to believe that people choose their career paths on the basis of what they will find rewarding/stimulating. Whereas the truck driver may find his career stimulating, it certainly wouldn't stimulate someone who is more intellectually gifted. But whereas the truck driver may be totally incapable by whatever means, of performing the role of a PhD, I find it unlikely that the same is true of the reverse. Of course, the PhD may not enjoy the role of truck driver, but that certainly doesn't suggest that he/she isn't infinitely capable of filling it, should he/she be required to do so.

To me this suggests that there are far more individuals with the potential to be successful truck drivers as there are potential professors. If it wasn't for the desire for stimulation many intelligent people seek, I doubt there would be half as many PhDs out there. Intelligent or not, people just wouldn't bother.

To add to the 'if your good at something, you'll be rewarded for it' discussion, I think that view is correct to some degree. However, you may be the best person at something ever to live, but if that something isn't in demand, your unlikely to recieve any particular financial reward for it. Incidentally, many salesmen make a whole heap of cash off the back of their talents with 'hot air' - hardly humanity's greatest blessing or achievement.

Sorry for any incoherency but I'm experiencing one of those 'completely tired but unable to sleep' situations!

5. ### dckbiliRegistered Member

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5
"Education is surely critical. It's just not the only policy solution to our short- and long-term challenges -- and sometimes not even a particularly useful one."

-Alan Greenspan

7. ### dckbiliRegistered Member

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5
"As it has been reported, our firms already outsource radiology, financial analysis, and programming jobs to low-wage counties, can we conclude that our displaced workers need better skill sets?"
-Alan Greenspan

8. ### dckbiliRegistered Member

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"Offshoring is not inevitable, it is a choice. If there were a truly free labor market I could move to one of the countries that the jobs are going to and compete for a job in an environment where my living cost is the same as my competition. The countries that are receiving the jobs won't let me in." -Stuart

9. ### cosmic cowRegistered Member

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5
If any of you are interested in the US government stats, you can find them for any job here:

http://www.umsl.edu/services/govdocs/ooh20002001/1.htm

For Lawyers:
Type of work Salary
$60,000 Private practice 90,000 Business/industry 60,000 Judicial clerkship and government 40,300 Academe 40,000 For Truckers: General freight trucking$17.56
Grocery and related product wholesalers 16.90
Specialized freight trucking 15.79
Cement and concrete product manufacturing 14.14

For Chemists:

11. ### NasorValued Senior Member

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6,221
Based on what I've seen in chemistry salaries, this sounds about right. The average post-doc salary seems to be around $25k-$35k/year, while industry salaries start at $70k and go up much higher if you're specialized in something with a high demand (like computational drug design or organic synthesis). Heck, the grad students at my university get paid$20k/year base, more if they can get some kind of fellowship.
I've posted statistics on this before, but you dismiss them as propaganda from 'the man'. What do you want, exactly?

12. ### dixonmasseyValued Senior Member

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2,151
Did I argue with those numbers?

19. ### Fraggle RockerStaff Member

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24,690
Basically the choice you're offering is to believe the statistics or to believe you. Even if we trust you, you admit that your statements are based entirely on your own experience with people from whom you have only two degrees of separation. That is not a valid statistical sample!

I know a few people with post-graduate degrees who are not doing well, but only a few. Among the rest of them there are certainly those who consider themselves failures by their own standards because they've ended up working for the Employer Of Last Resort (civil service) rather than doing brilliant work and advancing civilization, but even they are earning $80K. I know some high school graduates who started their own businesses and are now well into the six-figure bracket--mostly plumbers, and I still recommend to any kid who isn't sure college is for him to apprentice himself to a plumber. And of course there is the handful of gifted artists who didn't need no stinkin' education to make it as a guitarist or a sculptor. But most of them consider themselves lucky to reach$40K in a boring office job before retiring. Quite a few of them are in their 30's flipping burgers, stacking DVD rentals or selling shoes. A lot of them have jobs but still live with their parents in a prolonged adolescence. What happened to old DarkSidzz, a textbook illustration of that. Did he finally decide to go back to school at 29?

I'm not saying my personal experiences are any more representative of the population as a whole than yours are. But I am pointing out that you missed enough of the demographics to not have a valid sample.

If you don't think proper statistical methods were used, then tell us why. But don't just say that your sample must be more representative than theirs even though it's far smaller.

20. ### surfermsc123Registered Member

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Lies, damn lies, and statistics

There always seems to be a detachment between what the government tells people the numbers are (whether it's GDP, the Trade balance, or real income) and what people see in thier own lives and experiences.

For instance look at the US economy under Bush. If you look at the numbers alone it looks good. But then you find out that wall street and a small segment of US society has grown incredibly rich under Bush, while the majority of Americans have not seen any increase in thier personal income. Real wages have remained stagnant for 10 years. That is a fact.

Another example I have seen is with South Africa. Look at the crime statistics South Africa produces. It was on the news that they suspect they are fudging the numbers. If you talk to the average South African who experiences this crime first hand, you will see a large gap between what the goverment says vs. what people experience in the real world.

It's not like the goverment lies or has some hidden agenda in reporting statistics. No, certianly not. They would never do that..

The question is what is the motivation (if any)? We all know the U.S. government is ruled by big business, multi-national corperations, and special interests. Would these entities have any interest in getting highly educated, skilled workers, for next to nothing? Yes. How do you do that? Increase the supply. How do you increase the supply? Attract people to the occupation. It all seems a little far fetched, however it is not out of the question.

The most important thing to look at is the meathods used to collect these statstics that claim PHd's are making allot of money.

I can tell you that according the the statstics the starting salary for my major in college was "$50,000 yr". This what was told to me by everyone in the college departments as well as outside sources and that MSDOS based program everyone has used to look up salaries. They all claimed the starting pay for a business major ni "International Business" was$50k per year. This is of course a complete lie! In the real world most people are lucky to start off at $30,000 per year! Yet the statistics, and most importantly the college of business / university institutional research ( I used to work there as a student assistant) department that produces these statistics claim otherwise. Please allow me to tell you how these income statistics were collected by the IR professors: People with varying motives would call the department and say "I need income statistics for X major from your University". The IR department always got the statistics from surveys mailed to graduates at thier last known address. Perhaps 10% of all graduates would respond. People are ALWAYS lying about thier income today. Come on. I know you have noticed this trend. Why? Because of how our morally defunct society views them if they make less than they think are supposed to! I'm telling you from experience. People are always over-projecting themselves. Even when it makes no sense to do so. And I have no doubt that someone who spent 50k on a college education who was working for 30k in a dead end office job, watching his high school drop out plumber drive around town in a new SUV while he was still in the same car he had in college - and feeling terible. Yes. They would absolutey lie on the survey. Do you think they would lie on the survey? Do you think the University wants to look bad by producing low income numbers for its graduates and prospective students? Last edited: Dec 3, 2007 21. ### sreejaRegistered Member Messages: 13 According to me education and job are two different places.After completing education we certainly acquire practical experience.Now a days experience is the basis of salary.If a person is highly educated he can do much better than others who have less education.The skill also to be considered. 22. ### CharonZRegistered Senior Member Messages: 786 Actually the likely salary also depend on what field you got your phD. Biologists on average, get far less than chemistry guys, for instance. Or rather chemistry guys can get a job in the industry more easily than biologists. Staying in academia is usually for a long time not profitable. The average pay for a postdoc is around 35.000 and trying to score a faculty position is quite hard to achieve. Working long (say 60-70 h a week) does not make it easier, because that is the regular workload that you are expected to do anyway. A better career choice might be to get an industry position after the phD. Entry salaries are often around 60.000 but it depends largely were you end up (R&D, sales, technical support, etc.). 23. ### NasorValued Senior Member Messages: 6,221 Since everyone else is just throwing around anecdotal experiences, I'll add mine. There are many grad students in my department (chemistry), and every year about 20%-25% of them graduate and have to start looking for jobs. Almost everyone who wants an industry jobs seems to find one, usually at a salary of around$70k+/year; not bad for a 26-27 year old, and certainly a lot more than an electrician is likely to make. The lowest industry salary that I've heard of was $56k/year, and that person's options were limited because they insisted on living in a certain state. Intel just hired several graduating grad students for$99k/year.

Everyone here keeps talking about how PhDs are economic dead ends, but all I see are people from my department graduating and getting high-paying jobs right and left. Often people actually have jobs lined up a year or more in advance of graduation, usually because they've starting working on a research project in association with a company. There are a few people who have had trouble finding jobs, but those all tend to be people who - not to be mean about it - either just weren't very good and were barely able to graduate, or who were really nutty/weird and probably unable to make a good impression at an interview. Of course, that's a problem that probably would have damaged their careers no matter what field they went into.

And regarding the cost of grad school, I'd like to point out again that in the U.S. virtually all phsyical science grad stuents are paid to go to school, usually around $20k/year. There's also no tuition, so you're basically just paying for books and things like parking decals. No,$20k/year isn't a great salary for a 22 year old with an undergrad degree, but it's enough to live comfortably (in most places, anyway) and stay out of debt.