It turns out professors in the United States are rather well paid compared to those in other countries. According to a piece by Scott Jaschik at Inside Higher Ed:
A new analysis of faculty salaries at public universities worldwide — designed to make comparisons possible by focusing on purchasing power, not pure salaries — finds that Canada offers the best faculty pay among 28 countries analyzed.
Canada comes out on top for those newly entering the academic profession, average salaries among all professors and those at the senior levels. In terms of average faculty salaries based on purchasing power, the United States ranks fifth, behind not only its northern neighbor, but also Italy, South Africa and India.
See the (admittedly rather blurry) map below. Darker colors indicate higher compensation:
The study, the result of a collaboration between Center for International Higher Education at Boston College and the Laboratory for Institutional Analysis at the National Research University Higher School of Economics in Moscow, looked at not just salary, but what someone can buy with the salary. The idea was to get a true picture of compensation because the authors argue that, to a certain extent, there is a “global market” for academic talent.