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Re: Choosing between programs (UAB/BGSE/PennState/SSE)
A few points from my perspective as well:
* It is true that salaries in the US are 2x those in Europe (with few exceptions). But it is also true that the cost of living in the US is significantly higher. Having lived in the US and in Europe, my feeling is that there isn't much of a difference in terms of purchasing power parity adjusted consumption possibilities. (Remember, things like child care, health insurance, pensions, education costs are often coming out of your salary in the US, while they are often provided for free in Europe.)
* Whether you'll attend SSE or Penn State will significantly influence your likelihood of securing a job in the US. As you can see from Penn State's placement, they don't regularly produce people who place in the top 10 schools (although they sometimes do). If you land at a lower-ranked school in the US, it might actually be better to get a decent job in Europe. This is because the heterogeneity in faculty quality in the US is very large across schools, but small within departments, while in Europe it is often small across schools but can be large within departments. In Europe, there are many places who are extremely good at subfield x, while subfield y is really sub-par. This may seem to rank the European place low on average, but you shouldn't forget that they have top people in one subfield. If that's your subfield, bingo! Penn State is obviously a better choice for you then if you think the risk of your research field changing is large.
* This latter point also makes it important to be well informed about the relative strengths and weaknesses of European departments. You can't just simply say, "Oh look, SSE is a good school, I should go there." but you should check out who at SSE is good (and if you're interested in the field) and who is not. For SSE this matters a little less than for lower-ranked schools because they are basically good at almost everything.
If you get admitted to Tilburg and need to make a decision between Tilburg and other places, let me know. I'm a faculty member there and happy to provide insights (with the usual disclaimer of course that personal opinions may be biased).