The salaries of Argentinean scientists are to rise by an average of 23 per cent, announced the country's secretary for Education, Science and Technology, Daniel Filmus, last week (12 August).
The increase, intended to help reverse the brain drain that affects Argentina more than any other Latin American country, will benefit more than 10,000 scientists and technicians who are funded by the National Council of Scientific and Technical Researches (CONICET).
"We are creating conditions to stop the brain drain and deter our best professionals from leaving the country," said Filmus.
The exact amount of the salary increases will vary according to the status of each scientist and support personnel, and will be applied retroactively from 1 July 2005.
Initially, the average gross annual income of a senior scientist will grow from 3,649 pesos (US$1,263) per month to 4,497 pesos (US$1,559). Assistant researchers will now earn US$677 — US$141 more than before.
Doctoral fellows will now receive a stipend of at least US$422 and post-doctoral fellowship stipends will be up to US$510.
The salaries for the support staff will increase by between US$82 and US$139.
CONICET employs 4,398 researchers and funds 3,858 postgraduate fellows. Increasing their salaries will cost the council more than US$18 million, an amount that will be provided by the government budget for next year.
"This is a very good signal [to receive] from the government," says Andrea Mangano, assistant researcher at the Garrahan Children's Hospital.
"But," she adds, "it is still important to continue working for further salary amendments. Doing so and promoting a policy to revert brain drain would be a very valuable investment for our country."
Osvaldo Podhajcer, a researcher at CONICET, said in an interview with the newspaper La Nación that the government's support "makes us think that it is possible to do research again in Argentina. Only three years ago Argentinean scientists abroad could not even consider that possibility".According to the Economy Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, out of all the Latin American nations, Argentina has the highest ratio of scientists who have emigrated to the United States (see Latin America: brain drain largest for Argentina).