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Higher Education R&D Expenditures by State, Source

December 05, 2013

U.S. spending on higher education research and development (R&D) declined in FY12 (after adjustments for inflation) for the first time in almost 40 years, according to data from the National Science Foundation (NSF). The decrease marks the end of a period of modest growth since 2009 in which R&D expenditures increased at an average of five percent each year. While data on higher education R&D spending by state is not yet available for FY12, NSF has released state data through FY11, including expenditures by funding source

U.S. higher education R&D spending totaled $65.8 billion in FY12, up from $65.3 billion in FY11 without adjustment for inflation. In constant dollars, however, this modest increase amounts to a 1.1 percent decline, according to NSF.

In an associated InfoBrief, NSF attributes a portion of the decline in FY12 expenditures to the end of federal research funding provided through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA). ARRA-sourced expenditures fell from $4.2 billion in FY11 to $2.6 billion in FY12. At the agency level, academic research supported by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), by far the largest federal source of R&D funding, decreased by 4.7 percent in constant dollars. Funding through NASA fell by 6.5 percent.

Other federal agencies were able to increase their academic R&D funding, but not enough to compensate for HHS decreases. Constant dollar support through the Department of Agriculture increased by 8.7 percent, and Department of Energy funding grew by 4.6 percent. NSF and the Department of Defense posted smaller increases.

Funding from state and local governments for academic R&D also fell in FY12, though non-federally sourced funds as a whole grew in importance. In current dollars, state and local funding decreased from $3.8 billion to $3.7 billion. Meanwhile, support from institutional funds, private businesses and nonprofit organizations increased in FY12.

Perhaps reflective of the decline in HHS funding, higher education R&D expenditures in the life sciences decreased in FY12, particularly in the biological sciences. In current terms, life science funding fell by 0.2 percent and biological sciences, a subset of life sciences, fell by 2.1 percent. Life sciences remain the most important target of academic research, with projects receiving more than half of total U.S. expenditures. Funding for medical science research, the largest R&D field within life sciences, fell by 0.2 percent.

Since data by state remains unavailable for FY12, the impact of declining research funding across the country is still unclear. California, New York, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Texas remain the leaders in academic R&D expenditures, with spending in Maryland driven by Johns Hopkins University, the country's leading institution for research spending.

SSTI has prepared tables based on the NSF data showing higher education R&D expenditures by state FY06-11 and expenditures by funding source FY11. View the tables...

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