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Western Europe Increasing Competitiveness in R&D Capacity

January 10, 1997

During the past decade, the European Union (EU) invested heavily in civilian R&D by building first-class laboratories and expanding higher education in science and engineering. Its efforts, according to the Data Brief for a new National Science Foundation report, Human Resources for Science and Technology: The European Region, are narrowing the lead the U.S. holds in R&D.

For example:

  • Western European countries invested a total of $103.5 billion in all types of R&D in 1993, compared to $137.3 billion in the United States.
  • The amount spent on research performed at academic institutions in Western Europe -- approximately $20 billion in 1992 -- equals that spent at U.S. universities and colleges.

The report also found that over the 17 year period examined in the report, Western and Central European countries nearly doubled their annual production of university degrees in the natural sciences and engineering (NS&E). In 1992, Europe produced almost 300,000 NS&E degrees (including more than 25,000 doctoral degrees), compared to 173,000 degrees (18,000 doctoral degrees) awarded by U.S. institutions. The report points out Europe and the U.S. would have to combine their resources to come close to Asia, which awarded just over 523,000 NS&E degrees in 1992.

Copies of the full report (NSF 96-316) or of the Data Brief are available: by phone 703/ 306-1773, e-mail pubs@nsf.gov or on the World Wide Web <www.nsf.gov/sbe/srs/ stats.htm> under "What's New".