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US leadership in research and development is slipping, a new report warns

September / October 2020 | Volume 19, Number 5

Global Expenditures in R&D in billions

Graph of gross expenditures in R&D in billions of dollars ofr US and China from 1992 through 2022. U.S. leads until after 2017.
Source: The Perils of Complacency: America at a Tipping Point in Science
and Engineering
, Figure 1: Gross Expenditures in R&D in billions of 2019
constant PPP US

U.S. leadership in research and development (R&D) is waning while China's is on the rise, according to a new study from the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and Rice University.

China is increasing its R&D investment by double-digit percentages each year while the U.S. has fallen to tenth place among OECD nations in investment in R&D, measured as a fraction of GDP, according to the report. The lag in U.S. funding is exacerbated by current strains on the research system and higher education, COVID-19, restrictions on foreign researchers and proposed cuts to federal investment in research, the study authors say.

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