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Chapter 4. Research and Development: National Trends and International Comparisons


Chapter Overview

This chapter discusses how different economic sectors—including business, the federal government, and universities and colleges—contributed to recent trends in research and development funding and performance. It emphasizes R&D in the business and federal sectors (chapter 5 covers academic R&D in detail).

The importance of these trends to national welfare is highlighted by the recent change in the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) and related National Income and Product Accounts treating R&D as investment. The change recognizes R&D as a long-term contributor to GDP growth (see sidebar, “R&D in the U.S. National Income and Product Accounts”).

In addition to U.S. R&D trends, this chapter presents international R&D comparisons at the national and economic sector levels. One major trend highlighted here is the particularly rapid expansion of R&D performance in Asia. The chapter also details the distribution of R&D performed by foreign affiliates of U.S. multinational companies (MNCs).

Chapter Organization

This chapter is organized in eight sections covering national R&D totals, business activity, and government efforts in the United States and internationally. The first two sections cover U.S. and international comparisons in national R&D performance and funding.

The next three sections detail business sector R&D from the perspective of U.S. domestic activity, MNCs owned by U.S. parent companies or located in the United States, and cross-national industry R&D comparisons. The last three sections provide further detail on the R&D performed and/or funded by the U.S. federal government, compare the national government R&D priorities of the United States and the other major R&D-performing countries, and discuss several U.S. federal programs to promote technology transfer and commercialization.