What does it take to get a raise?

Gauss … [had] a salary that remained fixed from 1807 to 1824.

(see here.) What was Gauss’ salary? My limited google skills were not able to find this information, although I’m not sure how meaningful it would be to translate any such number into today’s dollars. More generally, although there is available data for academic salaries over the past 40 years or so, I’m curious for comparisons that go further back in time.

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6 Responses to What does it take to get a raise?

  1. TG says:

    What does the data look like for the last 40 years? (I know I could google it, but…). Anecdotally I have the impression that starting assistant professor salaries have gone up significantly above inflation in the last 10 years or so, but I have no idea if that’s actually what’s happened, or if that’s part of a long-term trend.

  2. voloch says:

    Tate once told me his starting salary at Harvard in the 50’s was 5K/yr, that’s 45K/yr in today’s dollars. What’s a starting salary at Harvard now, 120K/yr? He also said that his family was reasonably well-off on his father’s salary from the Univ of Minnesota during the Depression. Finally he said salaries did not rise that much until Sputnik and that Zariski was bitter that he had to retire before salaries got a bump.

    Finally, the Gauss bio you linked has the following factoid: “financial speculations shrewd enough to create an estate equal to nearly 200 times his annual salary. “

  3. Laurent Berger says:

    The French situation is nicely summarized in a neat plot that can be found there (scroll down to the first plot)


    The starting salary of an assistant professor divided by minimum wage is a roughly linear function of time, with a negative slope. The ratio will reach 1 in 2025.

  4. JT says:

    The procedure by which Gauss obtained a raise in 1824 may be familiar: Gauss was offered a position in Berlin, and Gottingen matched the salary in order to retain him. The negotiations with Berlin were overseen by the King of Prussia, and one of his representatives wrote: “…to justify the salary, he petitioned, with my support, the King that Gauss would be made an advisor to the minister…the King has agreed, and 600-700 Reichsthaler were allocated so there should be no more obstacles in this regard.”

    One can take this to mean that Gauss’ new salary was on the order of 700 Reichsthaler. In theory this represents a fixed quantity of silver, which at today’s prices is worth about $6000 – I don’t know about buying power at the time.

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