Science and Engineering Indicators 2006

nsb0601 Document Number: nsb0601
Author: National Science Board
Published: February 23, 2006
Keywords: science and engineering indicators, SEI, science and engineering policy
Available Formats: HTML
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Science and Engineering Indicators (SEI) provides a broad base of quantitative information on the U.S. and international science and engineering enterprise. The data are "indicators." Indicators are quantitative representations that might reasonably be thought to provide summary information bearing on the scope, quality, and vitality of the science and engineering enterprise. The indicators reported in SEI are intended to contribute to an understanding of the current environment and to inform the development of future policies.

SEI is factual and policy-neutral. It does not offer policy options and it does not make policy recommendations. SEI employs a variety of presentational styles - tables, figures, narrative text, bulleted text, Web-based links, highlights, introductions, conclusions, reference lists - to make the data accessible to readers with different information needs and different information-processing preferences.

SEI does not model the dynamics of the science and engineering enterprise, and it avoids strong claims about the significance of the indicators it reports. SEI is used by readers who hold a variety of views about which indicators are most significant for different purposes.

The Committee on Science and Engineering Indicators undertakes efforts to expand awareness and distribution of Indicators data for support of science and engineering policy decisions at all levels of government and to inform the Federal government and the public of important data and trends reflecting the condition of U.S. science and engineering.

Executive Summary

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.

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