Types of Indicators
Data Sources and Considerations
In response to increasing interest in both the policy and research communities about the role of science
and technology (S&T) in state and regional economic development, a new experimental chapter devoted to
the subject is included in the 2004 edition of Science and Engineering Indicators. This chapter focuses on the
performance of individual states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. It introduces a series of indicators designed
to present information about various aspects of the state S&T infrastructure and to stimulate discussion about
appropriate state S&T indicators. The data used to calculate these indicators have been gathered from both public and
private sources. Whenever possible, data covering a 10-year span are provided to identify meaningful trends. However,
because consistent data were not always available for the 10-year period, data for certain indicators are given only for the
years in which comparisons are justified.
Ready access to accurate and timely state-level information is an important tool for formulating effective
S&T policies below the national level. By studying the programs and performance of their peers, state policymakers
may be able to assess and enhance their own programs and performance. Hopefully, these indicators will encourage the
development of benchmarks that individual states can use to assess their progress in specific areas and to assist in setting
realistic goals for improvement. The tables are intended to give the user a convenient listing of some of the quantitative
data that may be relevant to technology-based economic development. In addition to describing the behavior of an
indicator, the "Findings" section frequently presents an interpretation of the behavior's relevance and meaning. The
interpretation is sometimes speculative, with the objective of motivating further thought and discussion.
Types of Indicators
Twenty-four indicators are included in this chapter and grouped into the following areas:
Financial research and development inputs
S&T in the economy
Indicators in the first two areas address educational attainment in a particular state. They focus on student
science and mathematics skills at the secondary level, public school teacher salaries, and undergraduate and graduate
degrees in S&E.
The workforce indicators focus on the level of S&E training in the employed labor force. These indicators reflect
the higher education level of the labor force and the degree of specialization in S&E disciplines and occupations.
Indicators in the financial section address the source and level of funding for R&D. They show how much R&D is
being performed relative to the size of a state's business base. Comparison of these indicators illustrates the extent
to which R&D is conducted by industrial or academic performers.
The last two sections, R&D and S&T outputs, quantify the robustness of a region's S&T activity through measurement
of its production of patents and technical publications, venture capital investment, and high-technology business
activity. Although data adequately addressing both the quantity and quality of R&D results are difficult to find,
these indicators offer a reasonable information base.
Data Sources and Considerations
Raw data for each indicator are presented in the tables. The first entry in each table represents the average value for the
states. For most indicators, the state average was calculated by summing the values for the 50 states and the District of
Columbia for both the numerator and the denominator and then dividing the two. Any alternate approach is indicated in
the notes at the bottom of the table.
The values for most indicators are expressed as ratios or percentages to remove the effect of state size and facilitate
comparison between large and small states or between heavily and sparsely populated states. For example, an
indicator of higher education achievement is not defined as the absolute number of degrees conferred in a state, because
sparsely populated states are not likely to have as extensive a higher education system as states with larger populations.
Instead, the indicator is defined as the number of degrees per number of residents in the college-age cohort, which
measures the intensity of educational services relative to the size of the resident population.
No official list of high-technology industries or sanctioned methodology to identify the most technology-intensive
industries exists in the United States. The definition used here was developed by the Department of
Commerce's Technology Administration in concert with the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics. See
"Technical Note: Defining High-Technology Industries."
A page containing key elements has been created to supplement the data for each indicator. The first element is a
map that is color coded to show in which quartile each state placed on that indicator for the latest year that data were
available. This helps the reader quickly grasp geographic trends. See the sample map below showing the outline of
each state. On the map, the darkest color indicates states ranking in the first or highest quartile, and white indicates
states ranking in the fourth or lowest quartile. Cross-hatching indicates states for which no data are available.