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Policy

Benefits Lag For NIH Postdocs

by Andrea Widener
December 7, 2015 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 93, ISSUE 48

The vast majority of NIH-funded postdocs get health care and dental insurance, but far fewer receive retirement or leave benefits, according to a survey conducted by NIH. The status of postdoctoral students, as well as the frequency and length of their positions, has become of increasing concern in recent years. This survey, conducted in collaboration with the National Council of University Research Administrators, examined benefits provided by 167 universities and research centers that had at least one NIH-funded postdoc in 2013; the findings were reported on NIH Deputy Director Michael Lauer’s blog. Of postdocs at those institutions, 91% received health insurance and 88% received dental insurance, which was similar to the proportion provided to staff scientists. However, only 55% of postdocs had retirement plans similar to other employees and only 70% had similar leave benefits. The benefits also varied by how many postdocs were at an institution. Research centers with fewer postdocs were more likely to provide equal benefits than institutions with more postdocs.

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