You may have seen some commentary recently suggesting that Canadian professors make more than their American counterparts. But according to new data, American faculty members make considerably more than their colleagues north of the border.
International comparisons always face the problem ensuring apples-to-apples comparisons. Without taking account of differences in the way in which the spectrum of university missions – teaching, research, and service – is funded in different countries, or the ways in which salaries are reported, for example, comparative statements about faculty or administrator salaries can be misleading.
Even with this caveat, the data shows a clear earning advantage for American professors. There are some differences between Canada’s National Household Survey (NHS) and the US Occupational Employment Statistics survey, but it is more like comparing Macintosh and Granny Smith apples. NHS data for Canadian university faculty and college and other vocational instructors are reported separately; they are combined in the US data. Both surveys include full-time and part-time employees. The weighted average salary for Canadians was nearly $65,000 in 2010. Ontario faculty fared a bit better and earned slightly more than $68,000. Their counterparts in the US earned about $76,000.
Assuming dollars at par, then, US post-secondary teachers earned about 17 per cent more than Canadians. Factoring in current exchange rates increases the difference to 21 per cent. If we consider Purchasing Power Parity – what one dollar buys you in one jurisdiction versus another – the differences become even more dramatic. Depending on which Purchasing Power Parity conversion rate is used to reflect national differences in prices, the relative earnings of American post-secondary teachers is actually 43 to 52 per cent higher than Canadians professors.
Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, Purchasing Power Parities, OECD StatExtracts.
Statistics Canada, 2011 National Household Survey: Data tables – Employment Income Statistics in 2010 (7), Sex (3), Work Activity in 2010 (3), Highest Certificate, Diploma or Degree (6) and Occupation – National Occupational Classification (NOC) 2011 (693) for the Population Aged 15 Years and Over in Private Households of Canada, Provinces and Territories, 2011 National Household Survey
US, Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics