Basic Research
NSF 95-304

Basic Research

The average annual growth in basic research spending between 1986 and 1994 is estimated at 8.2 percent. After adjusting for inflation, this growth represents an annual increase of 4.7 percent per year, which is consistent with the 4.8 percent real rate of growth reported for 1980 to 1985.

In terms of support, the Federal Government provides the majority of funds used for basic research. Yet despite the emphasis placed on basic research by recent administrations, the Federal share of the national basic research total dropped from 70 percent in 1980 to an estimated 58 percent ($18 billion) in 1994. This decline does not indicate a diminution in Federal support for basic research (in fact, it is up 73 percent in real terms since 1980) but instead reflects the growing tendency for such support to come from other sectors (up 192 percent over the 14 year period).

In terms of performance, universities and colleges account for the largest share (44 percent) of the basic research total. When the performance of university administered FFRDCs is included, the academic sector's share of total climbs to 53 percent. In 1994 the basic research performance of universities excluding FFRDCs reached $14 billion, representing a 3 percent increase from 1993 (1 percent in real terms). The Federal Government primarily the National Institutes of Health and NSF provided an estimated 63 percent of the basic research funds used by the academic sector in 1994. Non-Federal sources, including industry and State governments, provided the remaining 37 percent of the total.

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