In the real world, a PhD has very little utility. If you're smart enough to get a PhD, you're smart enough to do something else that doesn't have 5 years of opportunity cost and a negative expected ROI. You might make important social contributions as a research engineer, but your employer owns them all anyway and you'll never see a dime of the value you add to the economy.
My brother graduated top of his undergraduate class at an Ivy with a BS in physics and two publications. He was leaning towards going into a PhD program, but I told him to do business/consulting/finance recruiting for his last summer in college instead of doing more research, just to see how he liked it. He did that, then went back full time, and has abandoned any plans to do a PhD. He is tremendously happy with the decision.