Regional Summary: Research and Development Expenditures

Research and Development Expenditures

In 1993, the combined R&D expenditures of the Western European countries studied (EU and EFTA) were approximately $103.5 billion in 1987 constant dollars. [12] (Throughout this report, dollar amounts will be in 1987 constant PPP$.) Western European R&D expenditures amounted to 2 percent of the countries' combined Gross Domestic Product (GDP), with wide variation among countries. Greece invested only one-half of 1 percent of GDP in R&D, while Sweden invested more than 3 percent in 1993. In the same year, the total U.S. R&D expenditure was $137.3 billion, amounting to 2.7 percent of the national GDP. (See figure 8 and appendix table 9.) While the level of overall U.S. R&D spending is considerably higher than that of Europe, European expenditures approach those of the United States in non-defense R&D. In 1981, the U.S. non-defense R&D was about 15 percent higher than Europe's. (See figure 9.) But by 1992, U.S. non-defense R&D expenditures were only 8 percent higher than those of Europe: $104.7 compared with $95.8 billion.

Sources of Research and Development Funds

Industrially funded R&D in Western Europe is somewhat less than that of the United States-representing approximately 53 percent of total R&D funding versus 57 percent in the United States. The rate of growth of industry's funding of R&D has also been somewhat less. During the period of 1975 to 1992, European, industrially funded R&D grew at an average annual rate of 4.9 percent; that of the United States, at 5.7 percent. (See figure 10.)Europe performs as much university research as the United States, approximately $20 billion worth in 1992. (See appendix table 10.) European countries and the United States are similar in their major sources of support and performers of R&D. (See figure 11 and appendix tables 10 and 11.) European universities perform about 16 percent of overall R&D, as do U.S. universities. The amount of research performed by the government is greater in Europe than in the United States and reflects the stronger prevalence of national laboratories in these countries and their importance in the S&E labor market.

Science and Engineering Personnel

The combined sum of R&D expenditures of Western European countries has almost doubled during the period of 1975 to 1993. (See figure 12 and appendix table 9.) The number of scientists and engineers engaged in R&D has followed the same growth curve. (See figure 13 and appendix 12.) In 1991, research scientists and engineers numbered approximately 650,000, compared with about 960,400 in the United States. (See text table 5 and appendix tables 9, 12, 13 and 14.) The significantly larger number of research scientists and engineers (RSEs) in the U.S. labor force, as compared with Europe, highlights one U.S. strength that could be advantageous in science collaboration with Europe-sending young U.S. scientists and engineers to national laboratories and unique research facilities in Europe to work in innovative areas. European national laboratories are funded with long-term commitments for work in a particular field; any new opportunity in that field would be appropriate for them. Laboratory directors are not dependent on writing individual proposals for year-to-year funding, but they lack sufficient personnel to use their scientific resources fully. Issues related to combining the scientific strengths of the United States and Europe to mutual advantage are discussed in Implications for the United States.The rates of growth of research communities differed among individual European countries. Spain quadrupled the number of RSEs between 1975 and 1990, growing at an average annual rate of more than 10 percent, from 9,000 in 1975 to 38,000 in 1990. The number of researchers in the United Kingdom grew at a much slower rate, 2.5 percent annually during these years, but from a large base of around 80,000 full-time researchers in 1975. Since 1990, only Italy and the United Kingdom, among EU countries, have decreased the number of scientists and engineers employed in R&D. (See appendix table 12.)

[12] The R&D data on Western European countries reported here are derived from the Main Science and Technology Indicators of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, 1994, and from national R&D surveys. The R&D spending in 14 countries of the EU and 2 countries of the EFTA was combined to arrive at a regional total. No R&D data were included from Central European countries, although data are becoming available from Hungary and Poland. When purchasing power parity (PPP) conversions are available for Central European economies, a more comprehensive European R&D total can be derived.