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This overview of the National Science Board's Science and Engineering Indicators 2006 describes some major U.S. and international science and technology (S&T) developments. It focuses on trends since about 1990, although it occasionally takes a longer view. The overview synthesizes selected major findings in a meaningful way and is not intended to be comprehensive. The reader will find many important findings in the report that are not covered in the overview, e.g., public support for science is strong even though public knowledge is limited; S&T activities in different states vary substantially in size and scope; and some of those who are employed in S&T occupations lack S&T degrees, although many people with S&T degrees work in other types of jobs. The interested reader will find more extensive data in the body of the report; major findings on particular topics appear in the Highlights sections that precede chapters 1–7.
The reader should note the indicators included in S&E Indicators 2006 , which derive from a variety of national, international, and private sources, may not be comparable in a strict statistical sense, especially for international data. In addition, some metrics and data are somewhat weak, and models relating them to each other and to economic and social outcomes are not well developed. Thus, even though many data series conform generally to international standards, the focus is on broad trends that should be interpreted cautiously.
The overview begins with a broad picture of major developments that are changing the location and conduct of international research and development and are recasting international high-technology markets. It then discusses changes in scientific research that, although less pronounced, show paths similar to earlier technology trends. Next it reviews evidence of widespread international upgrading of education levels and the increasing international mobility of highly educated individuals, especially since the 1990s. The analysis then examines relevant S&T patterns and trends in the United States on which these external changes have a bearing. To the extent possible, the overview presents comparative data for the United States, the European Union (EU) before enlargement, Japan , China, and eight other selected Asian economies (Asia-8).