Embargoed until 1 p.m. EDT
NSF PR 02-28 (NSB PR 02-74) - April 30,
Strong R&D Spending Buttresses U.S. Economic
Growth, Report Shows
S&E Indicators 2002
hints that international impact may increase
Dramatic increases in research and development (R&D)
investments during the past decade, largely from industry,
have contributed to U.S. standing as a global economic
powerhouse. However, developments abroad could affect
U.S. preeminence in science and technology in the
years to come, says Science and Engineering Indicators
2002, a biennial report of the National Science
Board to the President.
The report shows that the United States finances 44
percent of the total worldwide investment in R &
D--equal to the combined total of Japan, the United
Kingdom, Canada, France, Germany and Italy.
International R&D on the rise
Inspired by American success, other nations are increasing
their R&D investments and focusing on areas such
as physical sciences and engineering, which receive
comparably less funding in the United States.
Those changes, S&E Indicators concludes,
could lead to the creation of new centers for research
excellence abroad, and return to those home countries
more of their U.S.-trained scientists and engineers.
The report acknowledged the many contributions of
non-U.S. born scientists to America's vitality, but
added "the country's international economic competitiveness
ultimately rests on the U.S. labor force's own capacity
for innovation and productivity."
Indicators also reports that R&D investments
by U.S. industry at home have contributed to a steady
stream of innovations and spurred economic growth,
increasing per-capita income. Concurrently, new forms
of R&D and technological alliances connect firms
and universities, nonprofit organizations and government.
The very conduct of research and development has changed
in response to market pressures and the capabilities
created by the information technology revolution.
This has led to transformations in other areas, too,
including a growth in science-based patents and a
much-increased level of high-tech exports.
Meanwhile, the balance of R&D investments continues
to shift. As industry R&D grew to nearly 75 percent
of the national total by 2000, Federal expenditures
remained essentially flat over the past decade. Defense-related
R&D fell by the end of the decade to a 50-year
low of about 14 percent of the U.S. R&D total.
Since 1980, the share of basic research to total national
R&D has risen from 14 to 18 percent.
Also rising quickly are federal research expenditures
in life sciences, from 41 to 47 percent of the federal
total between 1990 and 2000. However, the combined
share of physical sciences and engineering in federal
research total dropped from 37 to 29 percent in the
Workforce changes tracked
Changes in the U.S. economy have spilled into the workforce.
Information- and technology-based changes in the economy
have created new opportunities for highly trained
workers. Science and engineering occupational fields
are growing faster than the overall growth of the
American work force, the report shows. The Bureau
of Labor Statistics predicts that during this decade,
S&E occupations will grow by 47 percent, compared
to 15 percent for the labor force as a whole.
These workers have provided growth for American high-tech
manufacturers, which produce about 35 percent of world
output of major high-tech industries. The high-tech
industries' share of national manufacturing output
rose from 9.6 percent to 16.6 percent during the period
1980 to 1998.
In the past decade there has been a steady increase
of participation by women and minorities in the U.S.
science and engineering enterprise. The number of
foreign students enrolled in U.S. universities has
risen as well. In fact, half or more of the people
receiving U.S. engineering or computer science Ph.D.s
were born abroad.
In academia, the number of doctorates awarded in sciences
and engineering between 1991 and 2000 rose from 24,023
to 25,970. Within those totals, the number of Ph.D.s
going to women increased from 6,932 to 9,396, while
the number to white men fell from 8,585 to 7,909.
Education concerns remain
Despite many state and national reforms initiated during
the last decade, concern continues about the quality
of mathematics and science education in grades K-12,
according to the new Indicators. America's
high school students continue to lag in international
achievement measures in science and mathematics. Although
more students are taking advanced academic courses
in high school, many students need remedial work in
A persistent issue in science and mathematics education
remains the size and adequacy of the teaching force,
the report says. Too many mathematics and science
teachers have a limited background in the subjects.
Low pay makes the profession unappealing to college
graduates in science and mathematics.
Solving the problem of producing more high-quality,
homegrown scientists and engineers depends upon solving
the problems with elementary and secondary education,
the report concludes.
For the complete Science and Engineering Indicators
2002 see: http://www.nsf.gov/sbe/srs/seind02/start.htm