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Research and development: the 20 countries with the highest spending in the world

The United States, China and Japan lead the ranking of the countries with the highest spending on research and development (R&D) in 2020, according to data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) referred to in an analysis by the U.S. Congress.

In terms of Purchasing Power Parity (PPP), the United States spent 720.9 billion dollars on R&D in 2020, followed by China (582.8 billion) and Japan (174.1 billion).

To note: research and development expenditures are those for creative work undertaken on a systematic basis to increase the stock of knowledge and the use of this knowledge to devise new applications.

With respect to this statistic, PPP is used to determine the relative value of different currencies and to adjust the data for different countries to a common currency that allows direct comparisons between them. Likewise, the data in the ranking for Australia, Switzerland and the United Kingdom correspond to 2019.

Research and development

The analysis shows that in 2020, global R&D spending was $2,352 trillion.

Together, the top 10 countries funding R&D in 2020 accounted for $1.999 trillion in R&D spending, 85.0% of the world total; the top 20 countries funding R&D accounted for $2.225 trillion, 94.6% of the world total.

Top R&D spending countries, 2020 (in billions of current PPP dollars)

R&D plays a critical role in advanced economies in areas such as economic growth and job creation, industrial competitiveness, national security, energy, agriculture, transportation, public health and welfare, environmental protection, and expanding the frontiers of understanding of human knowledge.

Consequently, according to the U.S. congressional analysis, businesses, governments, universities, non-profit organizations and other entities around the world have made significant investments in R&D.

Since 2000, total global R&D spending has more than tripled in current dollars, from $675 billion to $2.4 trillion in 2020.

The United States emerged as a world leader in science and technology in the second half of the 20th century.

During this period, U.S. public and private investments in R&D grew rapidly and helped propel the United States to a position of global economic leadership.

In 1960, the United States accounted for approximately 69% of global R&D funding.

By 2020, however, the U.S. share of global R&D spending had fallen to about 31 percent.

 

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