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Infographic – Govt Research Funds Fall Behind in U.S.

Government research spending

Click on image for full-size view (Statista)

27 Oct. 2019. Funding for research at universities in the U.S. by government agencies is falling behind most other advanced countries, according to a new report. The data displayed in this weekend’s infographic are produced by our friends at Statista, from a report last week by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation in Washington, D.C.

The report shows the U.S. now ranks 28 among the 39 industrialized countries in the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development, or OECD, in research funding per capita, falling from 24th place in 2013. At 0.2 percent of gross domestic product, or GDP, the U.S. is spending below the average of OECD countries on research at its universities. And all of this is happening while universities in the U.S. lead the world in measures of scientific output, powering innovation with concrete economic benefits to the country.

According to the data, European nations lead in university research investment as a percent of GDP. The top six countries are in Europe — Switzerland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Austria, and Finland — investing 0.76 to 0.56 percent of their GDP. Australia, Iceland, Netherlands, and Singapore round out the top 10, with 0.55 to 0.47 percent of GDP. The U.S. spending percentage is more in line with East Asian countries, such as Korea (0.3%), Taiwan (0.24%), and Japan (0.2%). By comparison, the U.K. invests 0.24 percent of GDP in university research, while China spends 0.1 percent.

ITIF attributes the lagging U.S. performance to reductions in federal government spending since the budget sequester in 2012, which has not been fully replaced. But equally responsible are state government funding cuts in research support and education spending overall. Moreover says ITIF, industry will not likely come to the rescue, since businesses are focusing mainly on development — the “D” in R&D — rather than research. The group recommends the U.S. commit to investing $45 billion more each year in university research, which would put the country in the top tier of countries, instead of toward the end.

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