Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting nature.com. You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Big science spenders

More money than ever is being invested in research and development. Countries that previously spent little are now pumping money into science to secure their future economic growth. By Alla Katsnelson, infographic by Alisdair Macdonald.

Ten years of growth

Growth in gross domestic expenditures on research and development (GERD) between 2003 and 2013 was relatively slow in the United States and Europe, where research spending is high overall. The strongest growth has been in Eastern Europe, Asia and Latin America1. Growth is shown as a ratio of spending at the beginning compared with the end of the decade.

figure b

Source 1: UNESCO

Traveller's productivity

Foreign scientists and those who previously worked or studied abroad and then returned tended to garner more scientific citations than native researchers who had never lived abroad, according to data from the Global Science project — a survey of researchers in 16 countries2.

figure c

Source: 2. C. Franzoni et al. Working Paper 18577 (NBER, 2012)

Research intensity leaders

The 30 countries with the highest GERD as a percentage of their gross domestic product, based on latest available data3.

figure d

Source: 3. OECD/World Bank

Part of  Nature Outlook: Science-led Economies

Top performers' breakdown

The amount of funding dedicated to basic and applied research varies between the three top spending countries. Experimental development — systematic development of new or improved products or of processes based on previous research — constitutes the lion's share of research and development. Data are latest available and in million US dollars using purchasing power parities at constant (2010) prices3.

figure e

Source: 3. OECD/World Bank

Sources

1. UNESCO 2. C. Franzoni et al. Working paper 18577 (NBER, 2012). 3. OECD/World Bank

Authors

Related links

Related links

Related links in Nature Research

Foreign-born scientists: mobility patterns for 16 countries

Global mobility: Science on the move

Why South Korea is the world’s biggest investor in research

Nature Index - Rising Stars (2016)

Related external links

Innovation policy platform

OECD Research and Development Statistics Database

UNESCO Statistical database

Global Science Project

The Mover's Advantage: Scientific Performance of Mobile Academics

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Katsnelson, A. Big science spenders. Nature 537, S2–S3 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1038/537S2a

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/537S2a

Search

Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing