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U.S. R&D Spending Suffered a Rare Decline in 2009 but Outpaced the Overall Economy

NSF 12-310 | March 2012 | PDF format. PDF  
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by Mark Boroush[1]

Overall spending on research and development conducted in the United States in 2009 is estimated to have totaled $400.5 billion (current dollars), somewhat below the 2008 level of $403.0 billion, although still well above the $377.0 billion spent in 2007 (table 1). The growth of U.S. R&D from 2007 to 2008 was 6.9%, considerably ahead of the 1.9% expansion of gross domestic product (GDP) during that period (table 2). Although the level of total R&D dropped in 2009 by 0.6%, the depth of the decline was much less than the 2.5% decline in GDP. After adjusting for inflation, the 2009 level declined $6 billion from the 2008 level (down 1.7%) but was still $10 billion higher than in 2007.[2] (Amounts cited throughout this InfoBrief are in current dollars unless stated otherwise.)

TABLE 1. U.S. R&D expenditures, by performing sector and source of funds: 2004–09
Sector and sources 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009
Current dollars (millions)
All performing sectors 302,503 324,993 350,162 376,960 403,040 400,458
Business 208,301 226,159 247,669 269,267 290,681 282,393
Federal government 37,685 39,568 41,611 43,906 44,674 46,151
Federal intramurala 24,898 26,322 28,240 29,859 29,839 30,901
FFRDCs 12,788 13,246 13,371 14,047 14,835 15,250
Industry administeredb 2,485 2,601 3,122 5,165 6,346 6,446
U&C administeredb 7,659 7,817 7,306 5,567 4,766 4,968
Nonprofit administered 2,644 2,828 2,943 3,316 3,724 3,835
Universities and colleges 43,122 45,190 46,955 49,010 51,650 54,382
Other nonprofit organizations    13,394 14,077 13,928 14,777 16,035 17,531
All funding sources 302,503 324,993 350,162 376,960 403,040 400,458
Business 191,266 207,680 227,057 246,679 258,626 247,357
Federal government 91,656 96,276 100,768 105,822 117,611 124,432
Universities and colleges 7,936 8,578 9,285 9,959 10,707 11,436
Nonfederal government 2,883 2,922 3,021 3,265 3,518 3,675
Other nonprofit organizations 8,761 9,538 10,031 11,235 12,578 13,559
Constant 2005 dollars (millions)
All performing sectors 312,548 324,993 339,202 354,864 371,184 364,951
Business 215,218 226,159 239,917 253,484 267,706 257,355
Federal government 38,937 39,568 40,308 41,332 41,143 42,059
Federal intramurala 25,724 26,322 27,356 28,109 27,480 28,161
FFRDCs 13,212 13,246 12,953 13,224 13,663 13,897
Industry administeredb 2,568 2,601 3,024 4,862 5,844 5,875
U&C administeredb 7,913 7,817 7,078 5,241 4,389 4,528
Nonprofit administered 2,732 2,828 2,851 3,121 3,429 3,495
Universities and colleges 44,554 45,190 45,485 46,137 47,568 49,561
Other nonprofit organizations 13,839 14,077 13,492 13,911 14,767 15,977
All funding sources 312,548 324,993 339,202 354,864 371,184 364,951
Business 197,617 207,680 219,950 232,220 238,184 225,425
Federal government 94,700 96,276 97,614 99,619 108,315 113,399
Universities and colleges 8,200 8,578 8,995 9,375 9,861 10,422
Nonfederal government 2,979 2,922 2,926 3,074 3,240 3,349
Other nonprofit organizations 9,052 9,538 9,717 10,576 11,584 12,356

FFRDC = federally funded research and development center; U&C = university and college.

a Includes expenditures of federal intramural R&D and costs associated with administering extramural R&D.

b Los Alamos National Laboratory (approximately $2 billion in annual R&D expenditures in recent years) became industry administered in June 2006; previously, it was U&C administered. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (more than $1 billion in annual R&D expenditures in recent years) became industry administered in October 2007; previously it was U&C administered. These shifts in administration category are a main reason for changes apparent in R&D performer figures across 2006, 2007, and 2008.

NOTES:  Data are based on annual reports by performers, except for nonprofit sector. Expenditure levels for academic and federal government performers are calendar-year approximations based on fiscal year data. Figures for other nonprofit organizations are estimated and may later be revised.

SOURCE:  National Science Foundation, National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, National Patterns of R&D Resources.

  Table 1 Source Data: Excel file

TABLE 2. Annual rates of growth in U.S. R&D expenditures, total and by performing sectors: 1989–2009
(Percent)
Expenditures and gross domestic
product
Longer-term trend Most recent years
1989–2009 1999–2009 2004–09 2006–07 2007–08 2008–09
Current dollars
Total R&D, all performers 5.3 5 5.8 7.7 6.9 -0.6
Business 5.3 4.5 6.3 8.7 8 -2.9
Federal government 3.6 5.7 4.1 5.5 1.8 3.3
Federal intramurala 3.6 5.6 4.4 5.7 -0.1 3.6
FFRDCs 3.6 5.8 3.6 5.1 5.6 2.8
Universities and colleges 6.4 6.8 4.7 4.4 5.4 5.3
Other nonprofit organizations 8.1 7.9 5.5 6.1 8.5 9.3
Gross domestic product 4.8 4.1 3.3 4.9 1.9 -2.5
Constant 2005 dollars
Total R&D, all performers 2.9 2.6 3.1 4.6 4.6 -1.7
Business 3 2.1 3.6 5.7 5.6 -3.9
Federal government 1.3 3.2 1.6 2.5 -0.5 2.2
Federal intramurala 1.3 3.2 1.8 2.8 -2.2 2.5
FFRDCs 1.3 3.3 1 2.1 3.3 1.7
Universities and colleges 4 4.3 2.2 1.4 3.1 4.2
Other nonprofit organizations 5.7 5.4 2.9 3.1 6.2 8.2
Gross domestic product 2.4 1.7 0.7 1.9 -0.3 -3.5

FFRDC = federally funded research and development center.

a Includes expenditures of federal intramural R&D as well as costs associated with administering extramural R&D.

NOTE:  Longer-term trend rates are calculated as compound annual growth rates.

SOURCE:  National Science Foundation, National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, National Patterns of R&D Resources.

  Table 2 Source Data: Excel file

This R&D spending slowdown in 2009 primarily reflects a drop in business R&D (both current and constant dollars) in the face of the financial crisis and economic downturn that started in late 2008. Even so, R&D spending in other performing sectors continued to rise, which offset some of the business R&D decline. Part of this was the effect—notably for federal and academic R&D and R&D infrastructure—of the one-time $18.3 billion funding increase for R&D appropriated by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA, Public Law 111-5, enacted February 2009).

The 2009 drop in U.S. R&D is only the second such decline (current dollars) since the early 1950s. Nonetheless, the broader perspective remains that year-to-year increases in national R&D have occurred largely uninterrupted since 1953, in both current and constant dollars (figure 1). Over the 2004–09 period, annual growth in total R&D spending averaged 5.8%, compared with 3.3% for GDP (table 2). Growth in total R&D spending similarly outpaces that of GDP when the averaging period is either 10 years or 20 years. The same relative findings prevail when the dollars are adjusted for inflation.

FIGURE 1. U.S. R&D expenditures: 1953–2009.

  Figure 1 Source Data: Excel file

R&D Performers and Funders

The U.S. R&D system consists of a variety of performers and sources of funding, including businesses, the federal government, universities and colleges, other (nonfederal) government agencies, and nonprofit organizations.[3] A mix of performing and funding roles exists across this diverse group of organizations. Organizations that perform R&D often receive significant levels of outside funding; those that fund R&D may also be significant performers.

R&D Performers

In 2009, the business sector continued, by far, to be the largest performer of U.S. R&D, conducting $282.4 billion, or 70.5%, of the total (table 1, figure 2, figure 3). This predominance of the business sector in national R&D has long been the case, with its annual share ranging from 69% to 75% over the 20-year period 1989–2009. The 2009 level declined from the 2008 level of $290.7 billion, the first year-to-year decline since 2002. Even so, business R&D performance grew on average at 6.3% annually from 2004 to 2009, outpacing the rates of growth of both U.S. R&D at 5.8% and GDP at 3.3% (table 2).

FIGURE 2. Shares of U.S. R&D expenditures, by performing sector and source of funds: 2009.

  Figure 2 Source Data: Excel file

FIGURE 3. U.S. R&D, by performing sector and source of funds: 1953–2009.

  Figure 3 Source Data: Excel file

Universities and colleges performed $54.4 billion, or 13.6%, of U.S. R&D in 2009, an increase of around $3 billion over the 2008 level. Indeed, academic R&D spending has increased (in current and constant dollars) each year over the period 2004–09. The academic sector's share in U.S. R&D has ranged between 11% and 14% over the 20-year period 1989–2009.

The federal government conducted $46.2 billion, or 11.5%, of U.S. R&D in 2009 (including federal intramural, $30.9 billion, and federally funded research and development centers [FFRDCs], $15.3 billion). This was up by well over $1 billion from the $44.7 billion spent in 2008. In 1989, the federal performance share was 16%, but it gradually declined in the years since, ranging marginally above and below 12% since 2004.

Other nonprofit organizations performed $17.5 billion, or 4.4%, of U.S. R&D in 2009.

R&D Funders

With regard to R&D funding, the business sector was again the predominant source in 2009, providing an estimated $247.4 billion, or 61.8%, of the total (table 1, figure 2, figure 3). The federal government accounted for $124.4 billion, or 31.1%, of the funding total. Universities and colleges provided $11.4 billion, or 2.9%; other nonprofit organizations, $13.6 billion, or 3.4%; and nonfederal government agencies, $3.7 billion, or 0.9%. In recent years, these shares have remained relatively stable.

R&D by Character of Work

Basic research activities accounted for $76.0 billion, or 19.0%, of all U.S. R&D expenditures in 2009 (table 3). Applied research was $71.3 billion, or 17.8%; development was $253.2 billion, or 63.2%.

TABLE 3. U.S. R&D expenditures, by performing sector, source of funds, and character of work: 2009
Performing sector and
character of work
Source of funds ($millions) Total expenditures
(% distribution)
Total Business Federal
government
Universities and
colleges
Other nonprofit
organizations
R&D 400,458 247,357 124,431 15,111 13,559 100.0
Business 282,393 242,820 39,573 ** ** 70.5
Federal government 46,150 ** 46,150 ** ** 11.5
Federal intramural 30,901 ** 30,901 ** ** 7.7
FFRDCs 15,249 ** 15,249 ** ** 3.8
Industry administered 6,446 ** 6,446 ** ** 1.6
U&C administered 4,968 ** 4,968 ** ** 1.2
Nonprofit administered 3,835 ** 3,835 ** ** 1.0
Universities and colleges 54,383 3,279 31,575 15,111 4,418 13.6
Other nonprofit organizations 17,532 1,258 7,133 ** 9,141 4.4
Percent distribution by source 100.1 61.8 31.1 3.8 3.4 -
Basic research 75,970 16,486 40,451 10,800 8,233 100.1
Business 14,784 13,444 1,340 ** ** 19.5
Federal government 11,373 ** 11,373 ** ** 15.0
Federal intramural 5,507 ** 5,507 ** ** 7.2
FFRDCs 5,866 ** 5,866 ** ** 7.7
Industry administered 2,550 ** 2,550 ** ** 3.4
U&C administered 1,808 ** 1,808 ** ** 2.4
Nonprofit administered 1,508 ** 1,508 ** ** 2.0
Universities and colleges 40,544 2,344 24,242 10,800 3,158 53.4
Other nonprofit organizations 9,269 698 3,496 ** 5,075 12.2
Percent distribution by source 99.9 21.7 53.2 14.2 10.8 -
Applied research 71,330 34,344 30,101 3,535 3,350 100.1
Business 41,055 33,258 7,797 ** ** 57.6
Federal government 12,665 ** 12,665 ** ** 17.8
Federal intramural 8,006 ** 8,006 ** ** 11.2
FFRDCs 4,659 ** 4,659 ** ** 6.5
Industry administered 1,930 ** 1,930 ** ** 2.7
U&C administered 1,289 ** 1,289 ** ** 1.8
Nonprofit administered 1,440 ** 1,440 ** ** 2.0
Universities and colleges 11,912 767 6,577 3,535 1,033 16.7
Other nonprofit organizations 5,698 319 3,062 ** 2,317 8.0
Percent distribution by source 100.0 48.1 42.2 5.0 4.7 -
Development 253,161 196,527 53,882 776 1,976 100.0
Business 226,554 196,118 30,436 ** ** 89.5
Federal government 22,115 ** 22,115 ** ** 8.7
Federal intramural 17,389 ** 17,389 ** ** 6.9
FFRDCs 4,726 ** 4,726 ** ** 1.9
Industry administered 1,967 ** 1,967 ** ** 0.8
U&C administered 1,872 ** 1,872 ** ** 0.7
Nonprofit administered 887 ** 887 ** ** 0.4
Universities and colleges 1,927 168 756 776 227 0.8
Other nonprofit organizations 2,565 241 575 ** 1,749 1.0
Percent distribution by source 100.0 77.6 21.3 0.3 0.8 -

** = small-to-negligible amount, included in other funding sectors.

FFRDC = federally funded research and development center; U&C = university and college.

NOTES: Funding for FFRDC performance is chiefly federal, but any nonfederal support is included in federal figures. State and local government support to business is included in business support for business performance. State and local government support to U&C ($3,675 million) is included in U&C support for U&C performance. Some figures for other nonprofit organizations are estimates and may later be revised.

SOURCE: National Science Foundation, National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, National Patterns of R&D Resources.

  Table 3 Source Data: Excel file

Universities and colleges were the predominant performers (53.4%) of the $76.0 billion of basic research in 2009, with the federal government providing the largest share (53.2%) of the funding (table 3). The business sector performed more than half (57.6%) of the $71.3 billion of applied research and was also the largest funder (48.1%). Business was even more predominant in development, where it both performed the vast majority (89.5%) and provided the largest percentage (77.6%) of the nation's $253.2 billion of development expenditures in 2009.

R&D Intensity

The ratio of total national R&D expenditures to GDP is often reported as a measure of the intensity of a nation's R&D effort and is widely used as an international benchmark for comparing countries' overall R&D systems.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) estimates that U.S. expenditures on R&D totaled 2.87% of GDP in 2009. This figure is somewhat higher than the ratios prevailing in the last several years (figure 4). Over the 10-year period from 1999 to 2009, the ratio has fluctuated to some degree year to year, between a low of 2.55% in 2004 and a high of 2.87% in 2009. The broader trend since the mid-1990s has been toward a rising ratio since a low point of 2.39% in 1994.

FIGURE 4. Ratio of U.S. R&D to gross domestic product, roles of federal and nonfederal funding for R&D: 1953–2009.

  Figure 4 Source Data: Excel file

The federal and nonfederal components of U.S. R&D performance are plotted in figure 4. It is evident from this chart that most of the rise of the R&D/GDP ratio over the last several decades has come from the increase of nonfederal spending on R&D—particularly, that by the business sector. This reflects the growing role of business R&D in the national R&D system and, in turn, the growing prominence of R&D-derived goods and services in the national and global economies. By contrast, the ratio of federal R&D spending to GDP declined from the mid-1980s to the late 1990s—notably, from the continuing cuts in defense-related R&D. The trend since has been a gradual uptick, the result of increased federal spending on biomedical and national security R&D and the one-time incremental funding for R&D provided by ARRA in 2009.

International Comparisons

Worldwide R&D expenditures totaled an estimated $1.276 trillion in 2009.[4] The corresponding estimate 5 years earlier in 2004 was $873 billion. Ten years earlier, in 1999, it was $641 billion. By these figures, growth in total global R&D has averaged nearly 8% annually over the last 5 years and 7% over the last 10 years.

Many countries conduct R&D; however, global R&D performance is concentrated in a relative handful of countries (table 4). Three countries account for more than half of global R&D. The United States is by far the largest R&D performer ($402 billion in 2009), accounting for about 31% of the global total.[5] China became the second-largest performer ($154 billion) in 2009, accounting for about 12% of the global total. Japan moved down to third, at 11% ($138 billion). The other established performers spend comparatively less: Germany ($83 billion, 6%), France ($48 billion, 4%), and the United Kingdom ($40 billion, 3%). The most recent data available for South Korea are for 2008, which showed the country had $44 billion of R&D—in recent years, South Korea has typically been among the top seven R&D performing countries, representing from 3% to 4% of the global total. Taken together, these top seven countries account for about 71% of the global total. Russia, Italy, Canada, India, Brazil, Taiwan, and Spain make up the next rung, with national R&D expenditures ranging from $20 billion to $33 billion.

TABLE 4. International comparisons of gross domestic expenditures on R&D and R&D share of gross domestic product, by selected country/economy: 2009 (or most recent year)
Region/country/economy    GERD
(PPP $millions)
GERD/GDP
(%)
Region/country/economy    GERD
(PPP $millions)
GERD/GDP
(%)
North America Middle East
United Statesa 401,576.5 2.88 Israel 8,810.1 4.28
Canada 24,551.3 1.92 Turkey 8,681.2 0.85
Mexico (2007) 5,719.6 0.37 Iran (2,008) 6,465.2 0.79
South America Africa
Brazil (2008) 21,649.4 1.08 South Africa (2,008) 4,689.3 0.93
Argentina (2007) 2,678.8 0.51 Egypt 997.3 0.21
Chile (2004) 1,227.7 0.68 Morocco (2,006) 765.1 0.64
Tunisia 1,048.5 1.21
Europe
Germany 82,730.7 2.78 Central Asia
France 47,953.5 2.21 Russian Federation 33,368.1 1.24
United Kingdom 40,279.5 1.85
Italy 24,752.6 1.27 South Asia
Spain 20,496.4 1.38 India (2,007) 24,439.4 0.76
Sweden 12,494.9 3.62 Pakistan 2,055.2 0.46
Netherlands 12,273.8 1.82
Switzerland (2008) 10,512.7 3.00 East, Southeast Asia
Austria 8,931.3 2.75 Japan 137,908.6 3.33
Belgium 7,684.9 1.96 China 154,147.4 1.70
Finland 7,457.8 3.96 South Korea (2,008) 43,906.4 3.36
Denmark 6,283.8 3.02 Taiwan 21,571.8 2.93
Norway 4,734.1 1.76 Singapore 5,626.5 2.35
Poland 4,874.9 0.68 Malaysia (2,006) 2,090.9 0.64
Portugal 4,411.0 1.66 Thailand (2,007) 1,120.8 0.21
Czech Republic 4,094.8 1.53
Ireland 3,164.6 1.79 Australia, Oceania
Ukraine 2,485.7 0.86 Australia (2,008) 18,755.0 2.21
Hungary 2,333.8 1.15 New Zealand (2,007) 1,422.5 1.17
Romania 1,471.5 0.47
Greece (2007) 1,867.9 0.59 Selected country groups
Belarus 813.3 0.65 EU-27 297,889.6 1.90
Slovenia 1,043.6 1.86 OECD (2,008) 965,629.1 2.33
Croatia 743.1 0.84 G-20 countries 1,181,263.7 2.01
Luxembourg 708.5 1.68
Slovak Republic 595.5 0.48

EU = European Union; G-20 = group of finance ministers and central bank governors from 19 countries plus European Union; GDP = gross domestic product; GERD = gross expenditures (domestic) on R&D; OECD = Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development; PPP = purchasing power parity.

a Figures for United States in this table may differ slightly from those cited elsewhere in this InfoBrief. Data here reflect international standards for calculating GERD, which vary slightly from National Science Foundation's protocol for tallying U.S. total R&D.

NOTES: Foreign currencies converted to dollars through purchasing power parities. Countries with annual GERD of $500 million or more. Countries are grouped according to regions described by Central Intelligence Agency's World Factbook, https://www.cia.gov/library/ publications/the-world-factbook/index.html#, accessed 13 July 2011. No countries in Central America/Caribbean region had annual GERD of $500 million or more. Data for Israel are civilian R&D only. See sources below for GERD statistics on additional countries.

SOURCES: OECD, Main Science and Technology Indicators (Volume 2011/1); United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Institute for Statistics, http://stats.uis.unesco.org/unesco/TableViewer/tableView.aspx?ReportId=2655, table 25, accessed 13 July 2011.

  Table 4 Source Data: Excel file

With regard to R&D intensity, the U.S. R&D/GDP ratio was just under 2.9% in 2009 (table 4). At this level, the United States is eighth among the economies tracked by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. Israel continues to have the highest ratio, at 4.3%, although Finland is not far back, at 4.0%. Sweden, Japan, and South Korea all have ratios well above 3%; Switzerland and Taiwan are slightly above the U.S. figure.

Data Sources and Availability

The statistics on U.S. R&D presented here are derived chiefly from integrating the data on R&D expenditures and funding collected from NSF's major national surveys of the organizations that perform the bulk of U.S. R&D. In some cases, the primary survey data are adjusted to enable consistent integration of the statistics from these separately conducted surveys. Estimated values may be used where final data from one or more of the surveys are not yet available and can reasonably be prepared.

The main R&D surveys utilized include NSF's new Business R&D and Innovation Survey (for 2008 and 2009; see the preceding Survey of Industrial R&D for 2007 and earlier years), the Survey of R&D Expenditures at Universities and Colleges (FY 2009 and earlier years), the Survey of Federal Funds for R&D (FY 2009–11 and earlier years), and the Survey of R&D Expenditures at Federally Funded R&D Centers (FY 2009 and earlier years). Figures for R&D performed by other nonprofit organizations with funding from within the nonprofit sector and business sources are estimated, based on parameters from the Survey of R&D Funding and Performance by Nonprofit Organizations, 1996–97.

Data from the Business R&D and Innovation Survey are reported on a calendar-year basis and are used directly in the integration of the National Patterns totals. Those from the Federal Funds and FFRDC surveys are reported on a federal fiscal-year basis and are adjusted to calendar year for the integration. The data from the Survey of Universities and Colleges are reported on an academic fiscal-year basis and converted to calendar year.

The data on federally funded R&D discussed in this report were derived from surveys of organizations that perform R&D, such as companies, universities, and FFRDCs. These amounts can differ substantially from the R&D that federal agencies have reported funding. In FY 2009, federal agencies reported obligating $133 billion for R&D funding to all R&D performers (including $53 billion to the business sector), compared with an estimated $124 billion in federal funding reported by all performers of R&D ($40 billion by businesses). Although NSF has not found a definitive explanation for this divergence, the National Academies' Committee on National Statistics (CNSTAT) notes that comparing federal outlays (as opposed to obligations) for R&D to performer expenditures results in a smaller discrepancy.[6] For FY 2009, federal agencies reported R&D outlays of $127 billion to all R&D performers.

A full set of detailed statistical tables associated with the National Patterns estimates will be available in the report National Patterns of R&D Resources: 2009 Data Update, accessible at http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/natlpatterns/.

For further information on the National Patterns data and methodology, contact the author.

Notes

[1]  Mark Boroush, Research and Development Statistics Program, National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, National Science Foundation, 4201 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 965, Arlington, VA 22230 (mboroush@nsf.gov; 703-292-8726).

[2]  Adjustments for inflation reported in this InfoBrief are based on the GDP implicit price deflator. GDP deflators are calculated on an economy-wide rather than an R&D-specific basis. As such, they should be interpreted as measures of real resources engaged in R&D rather than in other activities, such as consumption or physical investment. They are not a measure of cost changes in performing R&D. The GDP deflators used in this chapter come from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, Survey of Current Business, 29 July 2011.

[3]  The National Science Foundation (NSF) identifies the main categories of R&D performers to be the following: businesses, federal agency intramural R&D facilities, federally funded research and development centers (administered by businesses, universities/colleges, or nonprofit organizations), universities and colleges, and other nonprofit organizations. With regard to R&D funding, NSF identifies businesses, the federal government, other nonfederal government agencies, universities and colleges, and other nonprofit organizations as the main sources.

[4]  The figures cited here for total global R&D in 1999, 2004, and 2009 are all NSF estimates. R&D expenditures by all countries are denominated in U.S. dollars, based on purchasing power parities. These estimates are based on data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Main Science and Technology Indicators (Volume 2011/1) and from R&D statistics for additional countries assembled by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Institute for Statistics (as of August 2011). At present, there is no database on R&D spending that is comprehensive and consistent for all nations performing R&D. The OECD and UNESCO databases together provide R&D performance statistics for over 100 countries, although the data are not current for all. NSF's estimate of total global R&D reflects the 78 countries that account for most all of current global R&D.

[5]  The $402 billion cited here for U.S. R&D spending in 2009 reflects the OECD statistical conventions for calculating total national R&D (minor differences with the NSF approach) and results in a slightly higher figure than listed earlier in this report. For international comparisons and to ensure consistency, NSF reports the statistics for all countries based on the OECD conventions.

[6]  National Research Council. 2005. Measuring Research and Development Expenditures in the U.S. Economy. Panel on Research and Development Statistics at the National Science Foundation; Brown LD, Plewes TJ, Gerstein MA, editors. Committee on National Statistics, Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.


National Science Foundation, National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics
U.S. R&D Spending Suffered a Rare Decline in 2009 but Outpaced the Overall Economy
Arlington, VA (NSF 12-310) [March 2012]


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