IIllustrated by Karina Mullen

IIllustrated by Karina Mullen


  • Over the last ten years, R&D expenditures as a share of economic output have remained nearly constant in the U.S., but have increased by nearly 50% in South Korea and nearly 90% in China. (Source: NSF S&E Indicators 2012, Figure O-3)


  • From 1996 to 2007, R&D expenditures in the U.S. grew by an average of 5.8% annually.  During the same time period, China’s average annual growth was 21.9%.  During the first year of the economic slowdown (2008-09), U.S. expenditures decreased slightly while China’s increased by 27%.  (Source: NSF Indicators Figure O-4 and Overview)


  • Between 2000 and 2008, the number of engineering doctorates awarded in China more than tripled to 15,000.  This compared to a total of 8,100 in the United States, of which only about 3,200 went to U.S. citizens and permanent residents.  (Source: NSF Indicators Figure O-10)


  • According to the OECD, government R&D spending between 2000 and 2009 increased by 250% in Korea and 330% in China; U.S. government R&D spending increased by about 45% during the same period.


  • The United States spent up to 17 percent of discretionary spending on R&D during the 1960’s, in part due to the space program, which resulted in a great deal of spinoff innovation; in recent years, outlays have fallen to around 9 percent of the federal discretionary budget. (Source: http://innovationtaskforce.org/docs/Benchmarks%20-%202012.pdf)


  • In 2008, China awarded 1 million first university degrees in natural sciences and engineering, up from 280,000 in 2000. That same year, the total number of first university degrees in natural sciences and engineering awarded in South Korea, Taiwan, and Japan (330,000) exceeded the 248,000 earned by U.S. students, despite the considerably larger U.S. population. (Source: NSF Indicators p. O-7)


  • The proportion of U.S. Patent and Trademark Office patent grants given to U.S. entities declined from 55% in 1995 to less than half in 2010. (Source: NSF S&E Indicators 2012, Appendix Table 6-45)


  • The percentage of U.S. gross domestic expenditures on R&D funded by the government declined from  47.1% in 1981 to 33.4% in 2011. The U.S. trails nine OECD nations in this percentage. (Source: OECD)


  • While the United States remains the single largest R&D performing country, with an R&D expenditure of $400 billion in 2009, for the first time the Asian region’s total of $399 billion matched the U.S. total. (Source: NSF Indicators Overview p. O-4. Ten years earlier, in 1999, the Asian region performed only 62% of the U.S. total in that year.)


  • Between 2000 and 2008, the number of science and engineering doctorates earned in China increased by more than 350% to more than 28,000. (Source: NSF Indicators Figure 2-29.)



  • Of science and engineering publications cited by U.S. Patent and Trademark Office patents, the percentage of foreign papers was 49% in 2010, up from less than 40% in 1998. (Source: NSF S&E Indicators 2012, Appendix Table 5-50).


  • In 2009, the U.S. government’s investment in medical-science R&D, as a share of GDP, was unchanged from 1995.  The U.S. now trails nations including Finland, Australia, Austria, Denmark, Norway, Finland, and Sweden in government investment in medical-science R&D as a share of GDP. (Source: http://www2.itif.org/2012-leadership-in-decline.pdf.)


  • The percentage of the population of 25-34 year olds that have attained college-level education in the U.S. trails that of 11 other nations, including Canada, the UK, Norway, Ireland, New Zealand, and Australia. (Source: OECD Education at a Glance 2013.)


  • In 2011, U.S. public expenditures on tertiary (college-level) educational institutions as a percentage of GDP trailed those of 13 other OECD nations including Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Ireland, Norway, and Sweden. (Source: OECD Education at a Glance 2013.)


  • Even though the number of international students attending U.S. universities increased between 2000 and 2011, the U.S. share of total international students declined by more than 25%. Meanwhile, nations like Germany, New Zealand, and the UK have seen significant increases both in numbers and in total share of international students during this time. (Source: OECD Education at a Glance 2013.)


  • Between 1993 and 2011, the average annual increase in U.S. gross domestic expenditure on research and development trailed that of other nations including Austria, Canada, Denmark, Finland, and Ireland. (Source: OECD Main Science and Technology Indicators.)


  • Recently, the U.S. percentage of world R&D has been dropping almost 1 percent per year. China’s percentage of global R&D has been growing over 1 percent per year. (Source: www.abqjo urnal.co m/249149/opinion/lo wer-investment-in-rampd-puts-us-in-danger.html  and www.rdmag.com/sites/rdmag.com/files/GFF2013Final2013_reduced.pdf ).