The globalization of R&D, S&T, and S&E labor markets continues. Countries seek competitive advantage by building indigenous S&T infrastructure, attracting foreign investments, and importing foreign talent. The location of S&E employment is becoming more internationally diverse and those who are employed in S&E have become more internationally mobile.

These trends affect every area of S&T. They reinforce each other, as R&D spending and business investment cross national borders in search of available talent, as talented people cross borders in search of interesting and lucrative work, and as employers recruit and relocate employees internationally.

Human capital is a key ingredient in these developments. Three factors affect the size of the U.S. S&E labor force that is available to compete for and create high-quality jobs in the worldwide knowledge economy: (1) retirements, because the number of individuals with S&E degrees who are reaching traditional retirement ages is expected to triple; (2) S&E degree production, because current trends will sustain growth but at a lower rate than before; and (3) potentially diminished U.S. success in the increasing international competition for foreign scientists and engineers, because many countries are actively reducing barriers to high-skilled immigrants while entry into the United States has become somewhat more difficult.

A prolonged slowdown in the growth of the U.S. S&E workforce would produce wage growth adjustments whose net effects in a mobile and integrated S&T marketplace are currently hard to assess. Better data, metrics, and models are needed to capture the evolving dynamics of international S&E labor markets and other aspects of S&T systems.

National Science Board.