Scientific Research and Development in the U.S. and Around the World


The U.S. spends more money than any other country in the world on scientific research and development.

But do those billions of dollars translate into breakthroughs, and what does the future hold?

Brain Trust

The U.S. spends more money than any other country in the world on scientific research and development. But do those billions of dollars translate into breakthroughs, and what does the future hold?

Who Spends What?

Here’s a look at where the R&D spending in the world happens, by region:

Americas 36.0%

Asia 36.7%

Europe 24.1%

Rest of world 3.2%

The U.S. by far outspends every other country in the world on scientific research and development at more than $400 billion. But what about when that spending is compared to our total gross domestic product?

Country Total R&D spending (U.S. dollars)

United States $436 billion

China $198.9 billion

Japan $157.6 billion

Germany $90.6 billion

South Korea $56.4 billion

France $51.1 billion

United Kingdom $42.4 billion

India $41.3 billion

Brazil $30 billion

Canada $28.6 billion

Russia $26.9 billion

Italy $24.4 billion

Taiwan $22.3 billion

Australia $21.8 billion

Spain $20.4 billion

Sweden $14.4 billion

Netherlands $13.7 billion

Switzerland $10.4 billion

Israel $10.3 billion

Austria $9.9 billion

Turkey $9.7 billion

Singapore $8.8 billion

Belgium $8.6 billion

Finland $7.7 billion

Mexico $6.8 billion

Denmark $6.6 billion

Poland $5.7 billion

South Africa $5.5 billion

Norway $5.1 billion

Czech Republic $4.3 billion

Argentina $4.2 billion

Portugal $4.1 billion

Malaysia $3.3 billion

Ireland $3.2 billion

Hungary $2.4 billion

Indonesia $2.4 billion

Romania $1.8 billion

Saudi Arabia $1.8 billion

New Zealand $1.6 billion

Greece $1.6 billion

Country R&D spending as a percentage of GDP

Israel 4.20%

Finland 3.80%

Sweden 3.62%

Japan 3.48%

South Korea 3.45%

Denmark 3.08%

Switzerland 3.00%

Germany 2.87%

United States 2.85%

Austria 2.75%

Singapore 2.65%

Taiwan 2.38%

Australia 2.28%

France 2.24%

Belgium 2.03%

Canada 2.00%

Netherlands 1.90%

Norway 1.85%

United Kingdom 1.84%

Ireland 1.75%

Portugal 1.67%

China 1.60%

Czech Republic 1.55%

Spain 1.42%

Italy 1.32%

Brazil 1.25%

New Zealand 1.22%

Hungary 1.20%

Russia 1.08%

South Africa 0.95%

Turkey 0.90%

India 0.85%

Poland 0.72%

Malaysia 0.70%

Romania 0.66%

Argentina 0.61%

Greece 0.50%

Mexico 0.39%

Saudi Arabia 0.25%

Indonesia 0.20%

Where the Money Goes

Here’s a look at the areas where most of the research is focused, by country:


National defense


Space/flight research



Clean energy

Stem cell research

New labs and institutes


Energy conservation/new energy sources


Robot technology

Life sciences





Aerospace/ transportation.

South Korea





Renewable energy


Communication technology


United Kingdom


Physical sciences







Climate change



Information/communication technologies

Oil/gas extraction

Pharmaceutical/medicine manufacturing


Life sciences



The Biggest Brains?

Which countries are poised for the biggest and best breakthroughs over the next decade?

Scientific and engineering researchers per capita

  • Finland
  • Sweden
  • Japan
  • Singapore
  • Denmark
  • Norway
  • United States
  • Australia
  • Canada
  • New Zealand

Patents per capita

  • United States
  • Japan
  • Switzerland
  • Finland
  • Israel
  • Sweden
  • Germany
  • Canada
  • Denmark
  • Hong Kong

Countries that will have the greatest scientific impact in 2020, according to Nature magazine readers

China 59%

United States 36%

India 29%

Germany 23%

Japan 22%

United Kingdom 19%

Brazil 16%

Australia 13%

Canada 11%

France 8%

Cause for Concern?

Budget cuts in the U.S. have led many scientists and researchers to sour on the U.S.

Nearly 1 in 5

American scientists considering pursuing their research overseas


Scientists and researchers who say they’re getting less grant money than in 2010

More than 1 in 2

Researchers with colleagues who’ve lost a job or expect to soon

Bright Outlook?

While budget cuts may be hindering some research in the U.S. now, scientists around the world still consider the U.S. an attractive location to conduct their work.

To which countries would you consider relocating?

United States 56%

United Kingdom 55%

Canada 51%

Australia 46%

Germany 45%

France 37%

Japan 17%

Brazil 12%

India 9%

China 8%



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