Nature | Trend Watch

South Korea stretches lead in research investment

Asian powerhouse invests more of its economy into research than anyone else.

Article tools

Rights & Permissions

TREND WATCH: South Korea has opened up a clear lead as the world’s most research-intensive economy, according to figures released last week by the Paris-based Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

In 2014, South Korea invested 4.29% of its gross domestic product (GDP) in research and development (R&D) — stretching ahead of Israel, which is ranked second with a 4.11% investment.

Chart showing South Korea at top of national investments in R&D as share of GDP

OECD

The increase in South Korea is largely due to rising industrial investment, and the country is aiming to spend 5% of its GDP on research by 2017.

China also continues to pour more into research. By 2014, the proportion of its GDP devoted to R&D had reached 2.05%, pulling away from the European Union, which invested 1.94%.

In absolute terms, China’s R&D spending is about one-third lower than that of Europe's. But the OECD says that when China’s lower wages are taken into account, the nation’s R&D purchasing power has — for the first time — surpassed that of the European Union.

With a similar adjustment for purchasing power, China's 2014 spending on research is already 80% of that of the United States' in 2013, the latest year for which figures are available. Forecasters suggest that China will surpass the United States in R&D spending by the end of this decade.

Journal name:
Nature
DOI:
doi:10.1038/nature.2016.19333

For the best commenting experience, please login or register as a user and agree to our Community Guidelines. You will be re-directed back to this page where you will see comments updating in real-time and have the ability to recommend comments to other users.

Comments for this thread are now closed.

Comments

Comments Subscribe to comments

There are currently no comments.

sign up to Nature briefing

What matters in science — and why — free in your inbox every weekday.

Sign up

Listen

new-pod-red

Nature Podcast

Our award-winning show features highlights from the week's edition of Nature, interviews with the people behind the science, and in-depth commentary and analysis from journalists around the world.