Cities offer larger salaries to people rather than small towns.
Here the comparison is between ‘salaries’ and ‘small towns’. The writer is saying that cities offer people large salaries and do not offer them small towns. Hmm. I would be quite happy if someone gave me a small town!
If we want to compare the salaries offered by cities with the salaries offered by small towns, then we need:
- Cities offer larger salaries compared to small towns.
(= salaries in cities vs. salaries in small towns)
And if you really must use rather than, then you could also write:
- Cities offer larger salaries rather than smaller salaries.
(= larger salaries vs. smaller salaries)
Most of the time instead of is synonymous with rather than:
- Cities offer larger salaries instead of smaller salaries.
However, instead of is quite often a replacement for something that came before:
- City companies now use electronic transfer instead of cash payment for salaries.
Next time make sure you’re comparing what you mean to compare!