April 2011 Issue • Volume 39 • Issue 4

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Where Are We Now?
Are ASA Current Dues Higher
than Comparable Associations?

Catherine White Berheide, ASA Secretary

The two disciplinary associations most like the ASA in their national scope, size of membership, budget, staffing and range of activities are the American Anthropological Association (AAA) and the American Political Science Association (APSA).

While the American Economic Association (AEA) may appear to be another comparison for ASA, a review of its website and most recent audit suggest it is structurally quite different.

While dimensions of an organization are not always easy to understand from such sources of information, it appears that over 80 percent of AEA’s total finances are devoted to their many journals and these journals appear to be self-sustaining—that is 80 percent of the AEA revenue appears to be derived from its journals and EconLit and about 80 percent of its expenses appear to be devoted to their production and distribution. Most of the remaining revenues comes from low member dues for which the members get free electronic access to all the journals. They also get access to the AEA annual meeting at reduced rates (membership in AEA is required to participate in their annual meeting, while it is not for ASA). AEA pays for a Washington Representative and is an institutional member of some of the same organizations as is the ASA. It has a job bank similar to ASA’s and charges employers for job postings (as does ASA and both our organizations have free access for members). We are excluding AEA from our comparisons because of the dissimilarities, namely the association’s extremely strong emphasis on self-sustaining publications as its primary activity.

Comparisons of APSA, AAA, and ASA

These organizations are quite similar but are obviously not totally alike in their organizational or fiscal structure. Some comparison of the costs of membership can be made, but it is harder to compare the range of services that are provided to members and to scholars and departments who are in their discipline but not members. (ASA gives most of what we produce for free to all sociologists; we cannot judge this for any other organization.) The main focus of comparison of these three organizations in Table 1 is the publications members receive as part of the cost of membership.

Table 1: APSA, AAA, and ASA in 2011

APSA Dues w/
3 journals
AAA Dues w/ Anthrosource * ASA Dues w/
1 journal
% ASA members (2010)
Under $40,000 $  93 Under $25,000 $135* Under $20,000 $  70 19%
$40,000-$49,999 $138 $25,000-$49,999 $161* $20,000-$29,999 $  71
$50,000-$59,000 $162 $50,00-$74,999 $189* $30,000-$39,999 $115 9
$60,000-$79,999 $175 $75,00-$99,999 $214* $40,000-$54,999 $167 20
$80,000-$99,999 $194 $100,000-$124,999 $250* $55,000-$69,999 $214 16
$100,000-$134,999 $227 $125,000-$149,999 $281* $70,000 plus $234 36
$135,000-$200,000 $255 $150,000 plus $306*      
$200,000 plus $305         100%
Student $43 Student Less than $20,000 $70 Student $50  
    $20,001 - 24,999 $135      
    As above by income $161-306      

  * Plus required membership in one AAA section (x = $27)

While comparisons are notoriously tough for myriad obvious reasons, some observations can be made.

Students are a third of ASA total membership. The cost of a student membership for ASA and APSA are in the same low range ($50, $43 respectively); AAA is considerably higher (minimum $70) and sharply higher for students with incomes over $20,000 ($20,001-25,000 is, for example, $135).

Almost one-fifth (19%) of ASA’s regular members select the lowest regular membership category by income which is under $30,000 ($71). The lowest category by income for APSA is under $40,000 ($93) and under $25,000 for AAA ($162 including the average required section dues).

For ASA, this means that 43 percent of ASA’s total membership pays dues of either $50 or $71, and is eligible for reduced section dues. We do not know the percents for APSA or AAA, but over two-fifths of current ASA members have the cost of their membership significantly subsidized by ASA and pay amounts comparable to or lower than APSA and AAA.

An ASA member making $50,000 would pay $167; in APSA the same ($5 less) and in AAA it would be $49 more. An ASA member making $60,000 would pay $214, in AAA the same and in APSA $39 less. An ASA member making $80,000 would pay ASA’s top dues of $234; in APSA the $80,000 member would pay $194 ($ 40 less); the AAA member would pay $241 ($7 more than ASA).

The mid-income ranges are not fully comparable across the three organizations but it appears that the 27 percent of ASA regular members selecting income categories in the range from $30,000 to $69,999 are not paying greatly different amounts than they would to belong to these other social science associations, at least across the board. Given the differences in the income categories, individual ASA members might find themselves paying a comparable amount, or roughly $40 more or less for memberships, as members of these other organizations might find themselves paying.

At $100,000, an ASA member still pays $234; APSA is about the same ($227), and AAA is $277 or $43 more than ASA. Above this income both APSA and AAA have multiple income categories with increasing higher costs of membership. The proposed new ASA dues structure will move in this same direction as these other organizations. We know that now 36 percent of the ASA regular members select our current highest income category ($70,000+) but we don’t know the income breakdown above that base. Our best guess is that about 45 percent of that top income category of ASA members would be under $85,000 and pay $26 more in 2013 than they do today.

According to the 2010 National Faculty Salary Survey, the median salary for sociology faculty is $69,398; for political scientists it is $71,742, and for anthropologists it is $71,105.

ASA members who select the income from $100,000 to $124,000 under the proposed dues structure would pay $66 more in 2013 than they did in 2011; it would be about $23 more than AAA members are paying now and $73 more than APSA members are paying in 2011. The proposed dues for these income categories for 2013 may be higher than the dues for these organizations in 2011, but they might not be higher than AAA’s and APSA’s 2013 dues.

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