U.S. falls to 10th in R&D investment intensity, remains first in overall R&D spending

November 12, 2020

The United States is currently ranked tenth in research and development intensity (a measure of R&D investment as a percent of a nation’s Gross Domestic Product) but has continued to lead the pack in total research and development spending, according to the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) recently published A Snapshot of U.S. R&D Competitiveness: 2020 Update. The report analyzes the role R&D investment plays within the U.S. while also examining research and development trends globally. It notes that while U.S. spending remains high, China’s R&D spending has “seen staggering increases over the past two decades, and remains an undeniable leadership rival to the U.S.” When measuring R&D intensity, AAAS found that the U.S. ranked tenth when combining public and private R&D investment, but is ranked 14th when only factoring in public spending towards R&D.

In addition to weighing R&D funding, the AAAS brief explores the growth of the research workforce throughout the world. America’s 1.5 million fulltime research workers ranks behind China and the combined 28 E.U. nations in total research workforce. When adjusted for the size of each country’s total labor force (researchers per 1,000 in the labor force) the U.S. is sixth behind Denmark, South Korea, Taiwan, Japan, and Germany. Looking toward the future, the AAAS report notes that nations such as Germany and Japan have set goals to increase their respective R&D intensity levels throughout the coming decade. 

The full AAAS brief, A Snapshot of U.S. R&D Competitiveness: 2020 Update, can be found here.