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Expanding Global Researcher Pool

Estimates of the number of the world's researchers provide broad support for the trends and shifts suggested by the R&D and degree data discussed previously.

The estimated number of researchers grew from nearly 4 million in 1995 to about 5.7 million in 2007.[10] The United States and the 27 EU members each accounted for about 1.4 million researchers—a combined 49% of the total but below the 51% share they had held a decade earlier. China's researchers more than doubled in number, from just over half a million to more than 1.4 million, boosting its world share from 13% to 25% over the period (figure O-10 ).

Trends in researcher growth rates vary greatly by country/region. The United States and the EU had moderate annual growth of about 3% between 1995 and 2006. Japan's rate was below 1%. Growth in the Asian region outside Japan ranged from 7% to 11%. China, the biggest country, averaged nearly 9% growth, including a brief but sharp break in 1998–99 that reflected the rapid conversion of state-owned to privately owned enterprises as a result of the central government's policy change. Russia's researcher growth rate, which is now flat, declined over the period (figure O-11 ).

The contribution of multinational corporations to researcher growth in the overseas markets in which they operate is unknown. Data on overseas R&D employment of U.S.-based MNCs and their majority-owned affiliates are available only every 5 years. The latest data available show that their overseas R&D employment increased from 102,000 in 1994 to 138,000 in 2004. Over the same period, U.S. R&D employment of these MNCs increased from 625,000 to about 716,000. As a result, the overseas share of R&D employment increased from 14% to 16% (figure O-12 ). These data do not include researchers employed by overseas firms in which MNCs hold less than majority ownership or by firms that perform research under contract to MNCs.

Employment of researchers by foreign-based MNCs in other countries is unavailable, except for those working in the United States. Growth in U.S. employment of researchers working for U.S. affiliates of foreign-based MNCs has been broadly in line with overall U.S. researcher trends.


[10] Both estimates are based on data from a limited number of countries reporting their data, on a full-time equivalent basis, to the OECD.

Science and Engineering Indicators 2010   Arlington, VA (NSB 10-01) | January 2010