Monday, April 21, 2008

The Few, The Proud, The Political Scientists!

According to Forbes' list of "Well paying rare jobs" political science is oh-tay.

Here is a summary listing the occupation, the alleged number of practitioners and their average salary. The data is "culled from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics data" and you can see them all by clicking on the "in pictures" link from the link above.

Prosthodontists 480 $158,940

Astronomers 1430 $ 95,000
Industrial Psychologists 1140 $ 89,920
Mathematicians 2840 $ 86,780
Political Scientists 3970 $ 86,370
Nuclear Reactor Operators 3750 $ 70,800
Sociologists 3440 $ 68,300
Agricultural Engineers 3050 $ 67,810
Gaming Managers 3330 $ 67,340

Here is Forbes and the BLS on what is a Political Scientist: Most of these professionals work for the federal government and earn more than $100,000 annually. The majority of course work is in Washington, D.C. The BLS says, "May study public opinion, political decision making and ideology, as well as analyze the structure and operation of governments."

Economists don't qualify as "rare" because there are over 15,000 of us according to BLS!

hat tip to BR


Chris Lawrence said...

The BLS can't possibly be right. The numbers are too low (APSA has at least 15,000 members, at least 2/3 of them are in the U.S., and many political scientists aren't APSA members) and the average income too high--I'd expect the numbers to be closer to sociology in terms of income.

Look at the BLS table. Only 210 political scientists are employed by colleges, universities, and professional schools? That's only off by a factor of 20 or so.

This table ("political science teachers, postsecondary") appears to be far more accurate. Amusingly enough, the metro area with the highest percentage of political scientist "teachers," per capita? Durham, North Carolina. Highest mean income too.

Either way, I need to start calling myself a public choice economist.

Dirty Davey said...

I don't know if the issue is so much that the BLS is "wrong", but rather that academics at universities are more likely to be classified based on their teaching role (the "political science teachers, postsecondary" mentioned) than on their research role, and the Forbes article is using the numbers for the non-teaching category.

In aggregate university employment, the research positions ("Life, Physical, and Social Science Occupations") total 115,580 while the teaching positions ("Education, Training, and Library Occupations") total 1,091,660 (including 11,740 in political science).