U.S. Competitiveness in Science and Technology
RAND NATIONAL DEFENSE RESEARCH INST SANTA MONICA CA
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The purpose of this report is to present and consider information related to whether the United States is losing its edge in science and technology ST. Claims have been made about insufficient expenditures on research and development RD particularly on basic research, problems with U.S. education in science and engineering SE, a shortage of SE workers in the United States, increasing reliance on foreigners in the workforce, and decreasing attractiveness of SE careers to U.S. citizens. A loss of leadership in ST could diminish U.S. economic growth, standard of living, and national security. Our assessment of the measures we have examined indicates that the U.S. ST enterprise is performing well. We find that the United States leads the world in ST and has kept pace or grown faster than the rest of the world in many measures of ST. Although developing nations such as China, India, and South Korea showed rapid growth in ST, these nations still account for a small share of world innovation and scientific output. Furthermore, we find that the consequences of the globalization of ST and the rise of ST capability in other nations are more likely to be economically beneficial to the United States than harmful. We also find that the United States has continued to invest in its ST infrastructure and that the SE workforce has managed to keep up with the demand for highly skilled SE workers through immigration. However, there are potential weaknesses in the persistent underperformance of older K-12 students in math and science, in the limited attractiveness of SE careers to U.S. students, and in the heavy focus of federal research funding on the life sciences, and we do not yet fully understand the consequences of an increasing reliance on foreign-born workers in SE.
- Economics and Cost Analysis
- Test Facilities, Equipment and Methods
- Personnel Management and Labor Relations