The U.S. Retains Its Top Spot In Science And Technology

Posted by Bull Bear Trader | 6/12/2008 08:10:00 AM | 0 comments »

Given all the bad news written about the U.S. economy, in particular energy and food prices, credit problems, financial failures, higher unemployment, and the housing crisis, it would be nice to finally hear some good news. As reported in a Financial Times article, the good news came in the form of the Rand Corporation announcing that the U.S. remains the dominant global player in science and technology. Among all industrialized nations, the Rand study finds that the U.S. still accounts for 40% of global spending on scientific R&D and 38% of patented inventions. A total of 75% of the world’s leading universities are in the United States. A total of 70% of the world’s Nobel prize winners also work in the U.S.

Of course, everything is not rosy, as expected. Policymakers worry that lower standards and decreased spending on research could hurt the economy and threaten national security. The Rand Corporation also warns that more college educated scientists and engineers now graduate in the European Union and China every year, compared to the U.S. As a member of academia who has taught in both engineering and finance departments, the increase of domestic students choosing to enter the work force after graduation as opposed to entering graduate school has been apparent for years. Unfortunately, at this point it is hard to see how the trend can be reversed quickly, even with our continued good standing regarding undergraduate and graduate science, engineering, and technology education. The difficult part is convincing domestic students that the hard work they put in now will pay dividends in the future. Unless we continue to support investment in all kinds of technology (be it biological, energy, computer/electronic, etc.), and give companies the business environment they need to continue to innovate and attract the best and the brightest, this may continue to be a hard sell. But if we can continue to do the right things, and provide the proper environment, there is reason to be optimistic.