Science and Technology in Transition to the 21st Century
Science, technology, and economies are becoming
This is one of the major trends characterizing the transition into the 21st century. U.S. investments in science and technology (S&T) should be viewed in a global context. The United States and many other countries are
investing in S&T capabilities, with both financial support and human resource development. Science & engineering (S&E) students and personnel are internationally mobile. Scientific and technological collaboration and alliances are increasing in both
academia and industry. The most effective form of S&T transfer is "people embodied," but technological know-how is also transferred through direct investment, patenting activity, the sale of intellectual property, and trade in technology-embodied
products. The following highlights demonstrate the globalization of science, engineering, technology, and the economy in terms of growth in worldwide S&T investments and increased international interactions.
"The force of scientific and technological innovation is helping to fuel and shape that new economy, but its impact goes beyond. These investments have surely paid off in higher paying jobs,
better health care, stronger national security, and improved quality of life
for all Americans. They are critical
to America's ability to maintain our
leadership in cutting-edge industries that will power the global economy
of the new century."|
President William J. Clinton
Many countries are investing in science and technology as a key economic strategy.
- The U.S. economy continues to rank as the world's largest, and the United States (all sectors combined) also spends the largest amount for research and development (R&D). Similarly, most other industrialized and developing countries are investing
in R&D. European countries have long done so, but now countries in Asia and the Americas are also putting special emphasis on increasing both human and financial investment in S&T.
- Expenditures on R&D performed in the United States exceeded $200 billion for the first time in 1997. The United States accounts for about 44 percent of the industrial world's R&D investment and almost as much as the other G-7 countries (Japan,
Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, and Canada) combined. In civilian R&D, however, the expenditures of these six countries totaled 18 percent more than nondefense R&D spending in the United States.
S&E education is increasing globally.
- Many countries have invested in training scientists and engineers. From the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s, the number of degrees in higher education in science and engineering increased rapidly in Asia and Europe. Trend data from selected Asian
countries show great increases in the number of first university degrees in science and engineering fields for China, India, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, and Taiwan. Between 1975 and 1995, the total number of degrees in the natural sciences earned
by students from these countries doubled; those in engineering almost tripled.
- From 1975 to 1992, the Western European countries collectively more than doubled their annual production of first university degrees in science and engineering. This increase in S&E degree production occurred despite a declining pool of
college-age students in Europe. Participation rates in S&E degrees increased to more than offset the declining population.
- Europe leads the United States and Asia in S&E doctoral degree production. In 1995, doctoral degrees awarded in S&E fields by Western and Eastern European (including Russia) institutions totaled 45,647-about 60 percent higher than the North
American level and almost three times as many as the number recorded for Asian countries.
- The global diffusion of S&E education has implications for the U.S. higher education system. Other countries' increasing capacity to educate
students in advanced levels of science and engineering may be one reason for the decline in foreign student enrollment in U.S. engineering programs. Additionally, the continuing expansion of global capacity for S&E education may affect all nations,
since it indicates an increasing potential for technological and economic development worldwide.
"Science and art belong to the whole world and before them vanish
the barriers of nationality."
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
The S&T workforce is becoming more global.
- The number of scientists and engineers engaged in research and development has increased in many countries. The U.S. share of the total numbers of R&D scientists and engineers in the G-7 has fallen slightly from 48 percent in 1981 to 45 percent
in 1993. Japan had 80 scientists and engineers engaged in R&D for every 10,000 persons in the labor force in 1993, compared with 74 for the United States.
- In the past decade, foreign students have accounted for the large growth in S&E doctoral degrees in U.S. universities. For the period 1992-96, the percentage of foreign doctoral recipients planning to remain in the United States increased: more
than 68 percent planned to locate in the United States, and nearly 44 percent had firm offers to do so. Stay rates differ considerably by nationality. In 1996, more than half (57 to 59 percent) of S&E doctoral recipients from China and India
receiving their degrees from a U.S. institution had firm plans to stay. A smaller percentage of those from South Korea and Taiwan (24 and 28 percent, respectively) accepted employment offers in the United States.
- International mobility is a characteristic of postdoctoral researchers. From 1990 to 1994, U.S. universities provided slightly more than half of their postdoctoral appointments to non-U.S. citizens. Another indicator of international mobility is
the proportion of foreign-born faculty in U.S. higher education. In 1993, 37 percent of U.S. engineering professors and 27 percent of U.S. mathematics and computer science professors were foreign-born. These faculty members are mainly from Asia and
Europe, with the largest numbers coming from India, China, the United Kingdom, Taiwan, Canada, and South Korea.
- In 1993, almost a quarter (23 percent) of doctoral scientists and engineers in the United States were foreign-born. More than a third of these (34 percent) received their S&E doctorates from foreign
institutions. In general, the percentage of immigrants is highest in fields with very good labor market conditions, such as engineering and computer sciences. The highest proportion of foreign-born
holders of doctorates was in civil engineering (51 percent); the lowest was in psychology (9 percent).
- Some U.S. doctorate recipients go abroad. A lower-bound estimate of U.S.-born Ph.D. graduates residing abroad in 1995 is 13,900 (3.3 percent of the total). If those with U.S. citizenship or permanent residency at the time of their degrees are
included, this rises to 19,600 (4.1 percent of the total).
"Every great advance
in science has issued from
a new audacity of imagination."
Scientific publications are increasingly international
- Since 1981, the overall number of articles published in a set of the world's influential S&T journals rose by almost 20 percent, compared with a rise of 8 percent in articles attributed to U.S. authors. This increase coincided with the
strengthening of S&T capabilities in several world regions. Europe increased its share of published output from 32 percent in 1981 to 35 percent in 1995, reaching a higher share than that of the United States.
Asia's share rose from 11 to 15 percent over the period.
- International collaboration on scientific publications is increasing, reflecting the globalization of science. In 1995, half of the articles in a set of journals covered by the Science Citation Index had multiple authors, and almost 30 percent of
these involved international collaboration. A steadily growing fraction of most nations' papers involved coauthors from different nations. From 1981 to 1995, while article output grew by 20 percent, the number of articles with multiple authors rose
by 80 percent, and the number with international coauthors by 200 percent. These trends affected all fields.
- For almost every nation with strong international coauthorship ties, the number of articles involving a U.S. author rose strongly between 1981 and 1995. Nevertheless, during this same period, many nations broadened the reach of their
international collaborations, particularly within geographical regions, causing a drop in the U.S. share of the world's
internationally coauthored articles. In the Asian region, collaboration particularly involved China and the newly developing industrial countries.
- Citation patterns also mirror the global nature of the scientific enterprise, as researchers everywhere extensively use and cite research findings from around the world. U.S. scientific and technical articles as a whole are cited by researchers
in virtually all mature scientific nations in proportions greater than the U.S. share of world output in chemistry, physics, biomedical research, and clinical medicine. U.S. articles in the remaining fields tend to be cited at or slightly below the
U.S. share of world output.
Industrial firms are developing international alliances.
- Industrial firms are using global research partnerships as a means of strengthening core competencies and expanding into technology fields that are crucial to maintaining market share. Since the mid-1980s,
companies worldwide have entered into over 4,000 known multi-firm alliances involving strategic technologies. More than one-third of these were between U.S. firms and European or Japanese firms. Most of the alliances were created to develop and share
"The world is changing more quickly than ever. Each of us sees the speed
and force of those changes around us every day, in ways we perceive
as wondrous, elegant and profound -- even sometimes, a little overwhelming."
Richard N. Zare
National Science Board
Foreign patenting activity demonstrates the global nature of technology.
- Foreign patenting in the United States is also strong and highly concentrated by country of inventor. Five countries-Japan, Germany, France, the United Kingdom, and Canada-accounted for 80 percent of foreign-origin U.S. patents. Several newly
industrialized economies, notably Taiwan and South Korea, dramatically increased their patent activity in the late 1980s and continue to do so.
- Americans successfully patent their inventions around the world. U.S. inventors received more patents than other foreign inventors in neighboring countries-Canada and Mexico-and in distant markets such as Japan, Hong Kong, Brazil, India,
Malaysia, and Thailand.
Trends in royalties and fees indicate global flows
of technological know-how.
- The United States is a net exporter of technological know-how; royalties and fees received from foreign firms have averaged three times those paid to foreigners by U.S. firms for access to their technology. Japan is the largest consumer of U.S.
technology sold as intellectual property, and South Korea is the second largest.
Foreign direct investments in R&D are increasing and demonstrate S&T globalization
- Substantial investment in R&D is made by U.S. firms abroad as well as foreign firms in the United States. From 1985 to 1995, U.S. firms increased their R&D investment abroad three times faster than their company-funded R&D performed
- R&D funding in the United States by foreign companies grew an
average of 12.5 percent per year from 1987 to 1995, even after adjusting for inflation. Foreign-sourced R&D performed in the United States is now roughly equivalent to U.S. companies' R&D investments abroad. More than 670 foreign-owned R&D facilities
are located in the United States.
- Most of the foreign international investment in R&D flowing into the United States is from Europe and Japan and is concentrated in the drugs and medicines, industrial chemicals, and electrical equipment industries.
"A nation which depends upon others for its basic scientific knowledge
will be slow in its industrial progress and weak in its competitive position
in world trade, regardless
of its mechanical skill."
International trade in technology products is another indicator of S&T globalization.
- The United States continues to be the leading producer of high-tech
products, responsible for about one-third of the world's production of such products. During the 1980s, Japan rapidly enhanced its stature in high-tech fields, but by 1995, U.S. high-tech industries regained world market share lost during the
- Between 1990 and 1995, three of the four science-based industries in the United States that form the high-tech group-computers, pharmaceuticals, and communications equipment-gained world market share. Aerospace was the only U.S. high-tech
industry to lose market share in the 1990s. The U.S. trade surplus in software technology doubled, and aerospace technologies produced large-albeit declining-trade surpluses for the United States.
Many countries are emphasizing science, math, and
engineering education as essential to achieving economic and societal goals both now and in the 21st century.
There is an increasing realization of the importance of education and knowledge to economic growth. Such education is seen as important not only for researchers but also for a diverse, technologically literate workforce
and for an educated and informed citizenry. Examining, updating, and improving the U.S. education system from K-12 through to graduate school is a major national priority as we enter the next century. Concerns have been expressed regarding the
employment prospects of science and engineering graduates, and universities are examining ways to make graduate education broader, more flexible, and relevant to present and future economic demands. Current issues include the role of the Federal
Government in funding graduate education, the further integration of research and education, and the importance of attracting and retaining students from all backgrounds into science and engineering fields. The following highlights provide some
information on these topics.
"The path to any nation's scientific and technological capability is an early, strong, and continuous math
and science education for each and every student. The earlier it begins
and the longer it lasts, the better
for the individual and the nation."
National Science Foundation
Progress has been made in precollegiate math and science education, but more needs to be done-especially in mathematics.
- In national assessments of math and science learning, students are
performing as well as, if not better than, the students of 25 years ago. Nine-year-olds and 13-year-olds are scoring higher on mathematics and science tests than they did in 1973, while performance of 17-year-olds has remained about the same.
- In the United States, there is little difference in the mathematics and science proficiency of girls compared with boys on national assessments of education progress. As of 1996, however, large differences remain at all grade levels in the
achievement scores of black and Hispanic students as compared with whites and Asians/Pacific Islanders. Native Americans generally scored closer to the national average than did blacks or Hispanics, but lower than whites.
- In a 1995 international comparative study on mathematics and science achievement, U.S. students performed comparatively better in science than in mathematics and better at the fourth grade level than at the eighth grade level.
- U.S. fourth graders were significantly surpassed in science performance only by students in South Korea. Students in Japan, the Netherlands, Australia and Austria also performed well at this level. U.S. eighth grade students scored just above the
international average in science, scoring lower than students from Singapore, South Korea, Japan, and the Czech Republic.
- Unlike in science, performance in mathematics at the fourth grade level in a 1995 international test showed U.S. students behind those of Singapore, South Korea, Japan, and Hong Kong. U.S. eighth graders answered just over half of the items on
the mathematics assessment correctly and scored below the international average. Eighth grade students in Singapore, Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Flemish-speaking Belgium, and the Czech Republic performed the best.
- Since the early and mid-1980s, the proportion of students taking advanced mathematics and science courses in high school has greatly increased. These gains often include students from underrepresented groups. Nonetheless, the achievement of U.S.
students in mathematics has shown only slight gains over time, and there remains a large proportion of students unable to demonstrate anything more than basic levels of knowledge, particularly at grade 12.
- U.S. mathematics and science textbooks contain many more topics and much repetition of material compared with those of other countries. In addition, there is evidence that in the United States, eighth grade mathematics is pitched at a lower level
than in higher achieving countries. U.S. students are still working on "high-end" arithmetic while their peers in other countries are studying algebra and geometry.
- The vast majority of U.S. elementary school teachers earn college degrees in education rather than in specific disciplinary areas. High school teachers are much more likely than middle or grade school teachers to possess science and mathematics
degrees. Teachers are also frequently assigned to teach classes outside their fields, especially in middle school. The problem is particularly acute in mathematics.
"Statistical thinking will one day
be as necessary for efficient citizenship as the ability to read and write."
Students often need remedial math and science preparation when entering higher education, but they are succeeding in getting S&E degrees at all levels.
- As students enter college, problems in math and science preparation are obvious. The percentage of freshmen reporting a need for remedial work in math and science has remained high, particularly for women and minorities. In 1995, of those
freshmen planning to major in science or engineering, over 16 percent of the males and over 26 percent of the females thought they would need remedial work in mathematics. These data are based on students' self-evaluations and may also reflect
various levels of confidence.
- Nevertheless, the number of earned bachelor's degrees in S&E from U.S. institutions has increased from over 307,000 in 1981 to 378,000 in 1995. By the mid-1990s, more than 5 percent of the college-age
population had completed a bachelor's degree in a field of natural
science or engineering (NS&E).
- Enrollment in undergraduate programs by underrepresented minorities has increased for over a decade, and this trend accelerated in the 1990s. In 1995, however, only about 2 percent of black and Hispanic college-age youth earned a bachelor's
degree in an NS&E field.
- Total enrollment in U.S. graduate S&E programs grew for almost two decades and has now begun to shrink. Graduate enrollments of foreign students and white males have dropped. A long trend of steady
increases in the enrollment of full-time graduate students whose primary source of support was the Federal Government also ended in 1995.
- At the master's degree level, science and engineering overall showed a great increase in the numbers of earned degrees throughout the 1980s, with the trend becoming even stronger in the 1990s. The recent growth is mainly in the social sciences
and engineering, with relatively stable
numbers in the natural sciences, mathematics, and computer sciences. The proportion of master's degrees in S&E fields earned by women and minorities has increased over the last two decades.
- The number of doctoral degrees in engineering, mathematics, and computer sciences doubled from 1985 to 1995. Much of this growth involved foreign doctoral recipients; the number of doctoral degrees they earned in S&E fields doubled from over
5,000 in 1986 to over 10,000 in 1995.
"Ignorance is the night of the mind,
a night without a moon or star."
"Perhaps the most profound discovery
of the 20th century is the
sudden confrontation with
the depths of our ignorance."
Increased attention is going to the extent to which research and education are integrated and the role of the Federal Government in supporting both R&D and graduate students.
- The Federal Government is the main source of support for graduate students via several support mechanisms. A majority of traineeships in both private and public institutions (53 percent and 73 percent, respectively) are financed primarily by the
Federal Government, as are 60 percent of the research assistantships in private institutions and 47 percent in public institutions.
- The prevalence of research assistantships as the primary mechanism of support for full-time graduate students in science and engineering has increased considerably. Research assistantships were the primary
support mechanism for 66 percent of the students whose primary source of support was from the Federal Government in 1995, compared with 55 percent in 1980.
- The National Institutes of Health and National Science Foundation are the two federal agencies that have been the primary sources of support for full-time S&E graduate students relying on research assistantships as their primary support
mechanism. Nonetheless, other agencies have varying and important impacts on graduate education in specific fields.
- Research assistantships are more frequently identified as a primary mechanism of support in the physical sciences, the environmental sciences, and engineering than in other disciplines. They account for less than 20 percent in all the social
sciences, mathematics, and psychology.
"There is no higher or
lower knowledge, but only one,
flowing out of experimentation."
Leonardo da Vinci
"The value of achievement
lies in the achieving."
Graduate education is being reexamined to determine its appropriateness for labor force needs in the future.
- Although there were many changes in labor market conditions for specific science and engineering fields, overall labor market conditions were similar in 1993 and 1995. Overall unemployment rates for science and engineering Ph.D.-holders were 1.6
percent and 1.5 percent, respectively.
- For recent Ph.D. graduates, the unemployment rate went from 1.7 to 1.9 percent. Only 2.4 percent of recent science and engineering Ph.D.
recipients reported working in a non-S&E job unrelated to their fields.
- Measured by the percent reporting that they were involuntarily
working outside their fields (IOF rate), the disciplines where recent Ph.D. graduates were having the most difficulties in 1995 were
political science (11.2 percent), mathematics (9.3 percent), sociology/anthropology (9.1 percent), geosciences (6.8 percent), and physics (6.7 percent). Recent Ph.D. graduates in the biological sciences do very well by this measure, with only a 2.8
percent IOF rate, but other measures suggest a drop in the availability of tenure-track positions for recent biological science graduates.
- Most science and engineering Ph.D.s are currently employed outside of academia. Looking at entire career histories, only a little over half of scientists and engineers-even at the doctorate level-were employed in academia at some point in their
- An estimated 26,900 Ph.D.s who earned their doctorates in the preceding three years entered academic employment in 1995. But the meaning of "academic employment" has changed for these young doctorate-holders. Fewer than 45 percent had regular
faculty appointments, compared with over 75 percent in the early 1970s, while the proportion in postdoctorate positions rose from 13 to 40 percent.
- Of scientists and engineers in postdoctorate positions in 1993, only 12.1 percent were in faculty positions in a tenure track in 1995; 41.6 percent were still in postdoctorate appointments. Despite this, the length of time being spent in
postdoctorate positions appears only slightly greater than that reported retrospectively by those currently in mid-career.
- While most individuals in postdoctorate positions in 1995 reported
additional training and other customary reasons for accepting their appointments, 17.1 percent said they were in a postdoctorate because other employment was not available. This rises to 29.3 percent in geosciences and 26.8 percent in physics.
"In the highly competitive, knowledge-rich, information-intensive, global economy, every individual, no matter what gender, color of skin, or disability, must be provided the opportunity and indeed encouraged to pursue their interests and to develop
their talents in science and technology whether it be as a career choice or to be able to exercise full citizenship in the technology and information age we have entered.
Our nation can no longer afford to underinvest in their potential or to have science and technology-illiterate
citizens in its democracy."
Office of Science and Technology Policy
S&E human capital development in the United States continues to show significant unevenness across
- The number of women with doctorates in science and engineering who held academic positions increased to 52,400 in 1995. This represented a new high of 24 percent of total academic employment of these highly trained personnel. Women remained
highly concentrated in the life and social sciences and psychology.
- Minority S&E Ph.D. employment in academia continued to grow, reaching 35,300 in 1995, but stayed at low levels for some groups. The 12,800 members of underrepresented groups-black, Hispanic, Native American, and Alaskan Native-accounted for 6
percent of academic doctoral scientists and engineers, up from 2 percent in 1973. Asian employment in 1995 stood at 22,500, 10 percent of the total, up from 4 percent in 1973.
- Women and members of minority groups have tended to enter academic employment at or above their share of recently awarded science and
engineering doctorates. Among recent Ph.D.s in academic employment (those with doctorates awarded in the preceding three years) women and underrepresented minorities were employed in rough proportion to their share of newly awarded doctorates to U.S.
citizens and permanent visa-holders, Asians were represented well in excess of their share of new Ph.D.s in science and engineering (although many of these are foreign-born).
- In the overall S&E workforce, minorities, except for Asians, are still a very small proportion of employed scientists and engineers in the United States. Asians, with 4 percent of the U.S. population, represented 10 percent of all S&E workers in
1995. Blacks and Hispanics were 3.4 percent and 2.8 percent of the S&E workforce in 1995, well below their shares of the U.S. population (12 percent and 9 percent respectively). Asians, 84 percent of whom are foreign-born, are the best represented
minority group in mathematics and computer sciences, physical sciences, life sciences, and engineering, each at around 10 percent. The underrepresented
minorities-blacks, Hispanics, and Native Americans-are most likely to enter social sciences and least likely to enter physical sciences.
The nation's S&E enterprise is undergoing changes
in structure and priorities as we prepare to enter
the next century.
Major changes are taking place in sector roles in the funding of research and development. The proportion of the Nation's R&D funds provided by the Federal Government has decreased, but the role of the Federal Government
is still essential in the areas of basic research and education. Priorities are changing, with defense R&D decreasing in importance and life sciences and health receiving increased funding and attention. The industrial sector provides a majority and
increasing share of national funding for research and development. This has implications for the character of activities supported because industrial R&D is primarily concentrated in development and applied research, rather than basic research. In
many countries, direct funding is supplemented by R&D tax credits and other indirect mechanisms. Science and technology are increasingly linked, and the role of partnerships and alliances has increased between sectors, within sectors, and
internationally. The service sector has a more important profile than in the past. Information technologies are an important driver for the economy and are making an economic and social impact that are just beginning to be understood.
"I spend money on war because
it is necessary, but to spend it
on science, that is pleasant to me."
R&D funding patterns have changed substantially.
- R&D expenditures reached an estimated record-setting high of $206 billion in 1997. The rate of R&D investment in the mid-1990s was the highest it has been since the early 1980s, a welcome contrast to the situation in the early part of the decade,
when increases in R&D spending failed to keep pace with inflation.
- Most of the R&D increases have been in the industrial sector. Industrial firms now provide two out of every three of the nation's R&D dollars
(an estimated $133.3 billion in 1997) and perform three-fourths of the national R&D effort (an estimated $151.4 billion). The major part of industrial R&D is development and applied research rather than basic research.
- Total federal R&D obligations were an estimated $68.1 billion in
FY 1997, 12 percent below the 1989 level (in inflation-adjusted dollars). The Federal Government has been steadily losing ground to industry as a source of R&D funds. In 1997, federal agencies provided 30 percent of all R&D funds in the United
States, down from 46 percent at the peak during the defense buildup a decade ago. This decline seems to have tapered off in the mid-1990s.
- Much of this decrease is a result of defense downsizing as priorities change, as well as attempts to control the budget deficit. The Department of Defense (DOD) share of federal R&D spending has been declining since the mid-1980s from its high of
two-thirds of federal funds. In 1997, for the first time since the early 1980s, DOD is expected to account for less than half (48 percent) of the federal R&D total.
- The decrease in defense funds is reflected in federal funding of industrial R&D. Between 1987 and 1997, the federal share of total industry R&D performance declined dramatically-from 32 percent down to an unprecedented 14 percent.
"Since the war years, both Congress and the different administrations
have shared the conviction that
support of research in the Nation's universities and industries represented an investment in the national future."
D. Allan Bromley
Office of Science and Technology Policy
Growth in federal support of academic R&D
- In 1997, an estimated $23.8 billion was spent for R&D at U.S. academic institutions, representing 12 percent of the total national performance. Academia, however, has a much larger role in basic research, performing more than 50 percent of the
nation's effort. Academic R&D activities are concentrated (67 percent) in basic research, with 25 percent in applied research, and only 8 percent in development.
- The majority of academic R&D expenditures in 1995 went to the life sciences, which accounted for 55 percent of total academic R&D
expenditures. The next largest amount of academic R&D expenditures was for engineering-16 percent in 1995.
- The Federal Government continues to provide the majority (60 percent) of funds for academic R&D. Academia has experienced a slowdown in the annual rate of growth in federal support. The share of federal funding has declined in each of the broad
S&E fields since 1975. The largest decline in the share of federal funding occurred in the social sciences, and the smallest declines were in computer sciences and environmental sciences.
- Federal agencies emphasize different S&E fields in the funding
portfolios of academic research, and changes in federal R&D funding by agencies can have varying impacts on R&D funding and graduate education support in various fields. For example, changes in federal funding for defense R&D have affected academic
engineering and computer science funding.
Links are increasing between industry
- Industrial support to academic R&D has grown more rapidly than support from all other sources during the past two decades, but it still is only a fraction (7 percent) of the total.
- Industrial interaction with academia can be seen in more than just financial patterns. Coauthorship by industrial researchers has grown since the 1980s, and in particular with academia. Coauthorship between industrial researchers with researchers
outside their sector rose from 27 percent in 1981 to 50 percent in 1995; about two-thirds of these collaborations involved academic researchers.
- Industrial firms are using academic research in their patent applications. The number of science article citations on U.S. patents increased from 8,600 in 1987 to 47,000 in 1996. The rise in citations held for all fields and for papers from all
sectors, with the fastest growth in citations to biomedical research and clinical medicine.
- Academic patenting, especially in the biomedical fields, has increased rapidly. The number of academic patents, while small, increased more than sevenfold in just over two decades, from 250 annually in the early 1970s to more than 1,800 in 1995.
"Further increases in the rate
of international and intersectoral cooperation in science and engineering are not just desirable in the current environment, they are absolutely vital."
Acting Deputy Director
National Science Foundation
The largest increases in industrial R&D are occurring in the S&E-based industries.
- Companies classified in the electrical equipment industry experienced the largest absolute increases and the highest percentage increases in nonfederal R&D expenditures between 1991 and 1995. All of the increase occurred in the electronic
components segment, which had a threefold increase in spending during this period.
- Pharmaceutical companies' R&D spending nearly tripled between 1985 and 1995. The most prominent trend in the drugs and medicines industry has been the increase in importance of biotechnology research; more than one-third of drug companies' R&D
projects are primarily biotechnology related. In addition, the rapid growth of R&D dollars reflects the high cost of research directed toward developing cures and treatments for
New funding mechanisms are gaining in prominence.
- Many countries have supplemented direct funding of R&D with fiscal incentives to increase the overall level of R&D spending and to stimulate industrial innovation. Almost all industrialized countries (including the United States) allow industry
R&D expenditures to be 100 percent
deducted from taxable income in the year they are incurred, and half of the countries (including the United States) provide some type of R&D tax credit.
- The pool of venture capital grew dramatically during the 1980s and emerged as an important source of financing for small innovative firms. Very little venture capital is actually disbursed to the "struggling
entrepreneur" as "seed" money. In 1995, seed money accounted for only 6 percent of all venture capital disbursements; money for company
expansion constituted 42 percent.
Cooperative R&D is now an important tool in the development and leveraging of S&T resources.
- There has been a major upswing in the number of inter- and intra-sectoral and international S&T partnerships since the early 1980s. The annual number of new research joint ventures between firms has been growing, with the largest increases
occurring in 1995 and 1996.
- Technology transfer activities became an important mission component of federal laboratories in the late 1980s, and more than 3,500 new
cooperative research and development agreements (CRADAs) were entered into between 1992 and 1995.
"Once experienced, the expansion
of personal intellectual power
made available by the computer
is not easily given up."
The service sector has increased in prominence, and information technologies are believed to have contributed to the country's shift to a service economy.
- The nonmanufacturing sector now accounts for approximately one-quarter of all R&D investment in the United States, considerably above the proportion it held in earlier decades. This higher profile is largely
attributable to the growth of the information technologies (IT) and communication industries.
- An examination of employment patterns of scientists, engineers, and technicians in a portion of the nonmanufacturing sector (wholesale and retail trade, transportation, communications, and utilities) showed a downturn in employment in 1994 from
the peak in 1991. The communications industry was one of the few experiencing an increase in employment of scientists and technicians between 1991 and 1994.
- Employment in IT-producing industries is projected by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics to nearly double from 1986 to 2006. This expansion is based almost entirely on expected growth in computer and data processing services. However, employment
in IT hardware industries has been declining. Nevertheless, as the demand for IT jobs spreads to other industries, IT occupations are expected to double over the shorter period of 1996-2006. Since exact projections are always difficult, this should
be taken as a general direction, not an exact level of employment.
- In the United States, software companies attracted more venture
capital than any other technology area. In 1995, venture capital firms disbursed a total of $3.9 billion, of which 20 percent went to firms developing computer software or providing software services. Medical and health-related companies were second
with 14 percent. By comparison, computer-related companies received just 7 percent of the venture capital distributed in Europe in 1995 and 5 percent in 1996, and European biotech firms received even less. European venture capital is primarily in
industries such as machinery and equipment, fashion and leisure products.
- Between 1990 and 1995, the U.S. trade surplus in software technology doubled, and trade in computer-integrated manufacturing technologies generated a sizable surplus. However, since 1992, the United States has had trade deficits in three areas:
opto-electronics, electronics, and computers and telecommunications. Large trade deficits with several Asian economies in these three advanced technology areas now exceed the trade surpluses generated from trade with other countries.
- Both South Korea and Taiwan continue to patent heavily in communication technologies and processes used to manufacture semiconductor devices, dynamic and static information storage, and display systems, among other technologies. Both are already
major suppliers of computers and peripherals to the United States. These patent data show that they continue to develop new technologies and improvements that will likely support increased presence in the U.S. and global markets.
"The more one observes,
the more clearly does he see
that it is in the soil of pure science
that are found the origins of all
our modern industry and commerce.
In fact, our civilization is wholly
built upon our scientific discoveries."
Science and technology affect our daily lives in many ways.
The results of science and engineering findings surround us at work and at home, but the social and economic effects are often difficult to quantify and analyze. Scientific and technological literacy are important.
Science and technology skills are increasingly required in many jobs. There is an increased emphasis on accountability and the importance of public understanding and awareness of science and technology. The public should be able to understand the
scientific process and be knowledgeable about science and technology discoveries in order to participate more adequately in policy discussions. The information revolution is upon us and is exceedingly difficult to track, let alone understand its
myriad implications and effects-both positive and negative. As we go into the next century, it is hard to visualize how our lives will be changed.
"I cannot do it without counters."
The Winter's Tale, IV, III
Use of information technology is increasing in the workplace, schools, and homes.
- The real net computing capital stock in the private sector was $155.8 billion in 1995. In many industries, the number of employees who use a computer at work is more than 50 percent; in the banking industry, it is 85 percent.
- Several comprehensive studies using a variety of data and methods indicate that there is an overall skill upgrading taking place in the labor force, a trend attributed to the greater use of IT in many occupations. Along with this increased use,
the incidence of IT-related injury and employee surveillance in the workplace are on the rise, but the effects on individuals are uncertain.
- Most Americans-57 percent-use a computer at home or at work. This percentage has grown steadily during the last decade, and in 1997 fully 88 percent of college graduates in the United States indicated that they used a computer at work or at home,
compared with 60 percent of high school graduates and 21 percent of individuals who did not complete high school.
- Nearly 32 million Americans have access to a home computer that
includes a modem, and 18 percent of adults reported in 1997 that they had used an on-line computer service during the preceding year. This is a significant increase in home access to on-line resources since 1995.
- Nearly two-thirds of Americans with graduate education or a professional degree have a home computer with a modem, compared to 31 percent of those with a high school degree. About 41 percent of Americans with a graduate degree said that they use
an on-line computer service compared to only 17 percent of those with a high school degree.
- Approximately 16 percent of Americans reported having access to the World Wide Web from their home computers in 1997, and 12 percent of adults sampled-representing about 22 million people-indicated that they had previously tried to find some
specific item of information on the Web. Around 6.5 million Americans said they had attempted to find health-related information, and about 8.8 million tried to find some scientific information (which would have included information about the
environment, space, or computers).
- The use of, and access to, information technology in the classroom is seen as an important (but not sufficient) tool to enhance education,
ensure equitable access, and develop computer skills for the overall
population. By 1992, 80 percent of all K-12 schools had 15 or more microcomputers for instruction. In 1996, 85 percent of all schools had access to multimedia computers, 65 percent had Internet access, and 19 percent had a satellite dish. Internet
linkages are not necessarily widely accessible within schools-in 1996, only 14 percent of instructional rooms had an Internet hookup.
- In fifth grade, more than half (58 percent) of the instructional use of computers is for teaching academic subject matter. By 11th grade, less than half (43 percent) of computer-based instruction is for content;
51 percent is for computer skills training. Meta-analysis of educational studies conducted between the late 1960s and the late 1980s
consistently reveals positive effects of computer-based instruction at the K-12 level. Estimates of the order of magnitude vary, but one meta-analysis of 40 studies estimated learning advantages that ranged from the equivalent of one-third to
one-half of a school year for K-6 education.
- Questions have been raised over the cost effectiveness of computer-based instruction relative to other forms of instruction. Additionally, significant inequity exists in educational access to computers and the Internet. Schools whose enrollments
comprise primarily minority or economically disadvantaged students have one-third to three times less access to these technologies than do schools represented by white or nondisadvantaged students.
- Concerns about information privacy are growing larger and stronger.
Two-thirds of the public said that protecting consumer information
privacy was very important.
"If we fail to ensure that our children have the technological resources
they need to compete in an
ever-changing information economy,
our nation will be poorer for it."
Vice President Albert Gore, Jr.
The issues of accountability and communication with the public are drawing increased emphasis.
- About one in five Americans think they are very well-informed about new scientific discoveries and about the use of new inventions and
technologies. One in four Americans understands the nature of scientific inquiry well enough to be able to make relatively informed judgments about the scientific basis of results reported in the media.
- In 1997, 75 percent of Americans believed that the benefits of scientific research outweigh any present or potential harms. Despite their positive views of scientific research, Americans are deeply divided over the development and impact of
several important technologies, including nuclear power and genetic engineering.
- American adults express a high level of interest in new scientific
discoveries and in the use of new inventions and technologies. The public is interested in knowing what is happening in science and technology, and the scientific community needs to communicate its work ever more clearly and effectively.
"Public opinion is everything. With public sentiment nothing can fail; without it, nothing can succeed."
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