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State of U.S. Science and Engineering 2022

January 27, 2022

The National Science Board (NSB) and The National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES) recently released their biannual report on “The State of U.S. Science and Engineering.” The report outlines trends in the science and engineering (S&E) workforce, including demographic data on the labor force and in education, and places U.S. research and development investments in global and historical context. Read the full report.

Demographics

The report indicates that representation has generally increased across racial and ethnic lines, although changes have been slow and the S&E workforce is less representative among those in high-skill jobs and with advanced degrees.


Education

K-12 education is a key area of concern in the United States. American students consistently underperform their counterparts in developed countries. Racial and ethnic disparities in these subjects have stagnated or worsened in recent years, even before the COVID-19 pandemic caused additional learning disruptions.

American Universities award more S&E doctoral degrees than any other nation. This is driven to a significant extent by the fact that more international students study in the U.S. than any other country. Nonetheless, other nations are catching up, led by rapid growth in China and India.

Educational attainment is also an important indicator of public confidence in science. Those without a college degree have far less confidence in scientists to act in the best interest of the public.


Global Standing

The United States continues to lead the world in R&D investment. China is the second largest funder, but has yet to surpass US investments due to rising costs in the country. However, China and its neighbors across Asia have contributed more to the global growth in R&D over the past two decades than Europe and the United States, marking a shift in the landscape of R&D investment.


Domestic R&D Funding

In the past decade, growth in U.S. R&D expenditures is largely due to increased investments from the private sector. Private sector spending, however, mainly supports applied research and experimental development. The Federal government remains the largest source of funding for basic research.

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