Brain drain How much an Italian researcher earns (disappointed) Comparison with Europe disarms: meager salaries and longer careers

I applaud the Meloni government for considering research, which in the latest PA decree introduced an increase of up to 30% in compensation for researchers who have received substantial research funding such as the Gant Horizon and Marie Curie projects. The Prime Minister explained that the announced decision was taken to “do not bring back to Italy researchers who have fled abroad, because we want Italians to have the opportunity to find the best conditions to work here”.

Unfortunately, we’re only talking about high-profile researchers today, and something needs to be done to support those who decide to take this long and winding road today. Before returning the brains to Italy, it will be necessary to redevelop the whole process from the bottom up, in order to prevent them from being emptied, to restore the dignity of Italian research. In fact, current wages and working conditions are completely inadequate and light years away from European standards. Let’s go in order.

The plan of Meloni, who escaped from the researchers, is not enough

Brain drain abroad is a long-known problem, little has been done about for years. Let’s start with the salaries. Before you can become a researcher, you need a PhD: the minimum salary for these three years is 1,195 euros net per month, which is very low considering the cost of living. And to think that up until a few months ago (July 2022) they received even less than 800 euros a month. The salary of a researcher is between 1,400 and 1,900 euros per month. If you later become an associate professor, you will earn around 2,300 euros per month, which becomes 4,000 euros when you become a full professor.

On less than 1,200 euros a month (a situation around 80% of which find themselves in) the life of doctoral students is frustrating: few luxuries and too many jobs (almost no protection). In university cities, rent alone covers more than 30% of the grant. Adi – According to a very recent survey by the association of doctoral students and research doctors in Italy, 54% of the interviewees (over 5 thousand, equal to 12% in total) are not able to save anything and limit themselves to strictly necessary expenses. Thus, fatigue with negative psychological effects, especially for women: This rises to 46.7% among doctoral students, compared to 37.2% of doctoral students who often or always feel 3 or more of 6 factors. And after the PhD, that’s the name of the PhD across borders, many Italian researchers have fled abroad: In the last decade alone, 3,000 Italian university professors have been recruited in the United States.

Comparison with Europe

Needless to say, the comparison of the salaries of Italian researchers with the rest of the world is as disarming as in the rest of Europe. Combining the cost of living and the value of scholarships, Adi argues that the scholarship should be increased to 1,500 euros per month in order to align with France, Spain and Germany, and underlines that the difference between the Netherlands and Denmark is huge. wider

According to a survey by researchers at the University of Berkeley, a young professor in Bavaria earns on average 52,689 euros, a British ‘lecturer’ earns 49,168 euros, while an Italian reporter earns 28,256 euros; German associate professor €70,333, English associate professor €69,835, Italian associate professor €40,988; The German permanent professor costs 82,627 euros, the British 91,973 euros and the Italian 57,178 euros.

It should be noted that the wages of Transalpine colleagues benefit from a variable quota not available to Italians, which takes into account the number of children and the city in which they work, while also taking into account the cost of living. This share can be negotiated in Germany and the United Kingdom, where it averages 20% of the basic salary, while in France it is determined by law.


Being a researcher in Italy is a mission especially for women, given that there is a salary gap of around 300 euros between the two sexes, while abroad it does not exceed 200 euros. It should also be taken into account that the duration of careers in our country is much longer than the European average.

In a nutshell: Researchers in Italy earn lower salaries compared to their European counterparts, are frustrated by not being financially independent, have no bodyguards, and have to wait longer years to pursue a career. All this because Italy has yet to recognize research as real business. In the face of this undeniable evidence, can we blame the 30-year-olds who fled abroad (taking fortunes from our country) trying to build a future for themselves?

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Source: Today IT