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ERIC Number: ED502213
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2008
Pages: 189
Abstractor: ERIC
ISBN: ISBN-978-0-8330-4424-2
U.S. Competitiveness in Science and Technology
Galama, Titus; Hosek, James
RAND Corporation
The purpose of this report is to present and consider information related to whether the United States is losing its edge in science and technology (S&T). The report cites arguments made to support the contention of a creeping S&T crisis in the United States, contrasts the arguments with relevant data, and considers them from additional angles. Research questions considered include: (1) What are the implications of the globalization of S&T and the rise of other nations for U.S. performance in S&T? and (2) What evidence suggests that the United States has been under-investing in S&T? Assessment indicates that the U.S. S&T enterprise is performing well: the United States leads the world in S&T and has kept pace or grown faster than the rest of the world in many measures of S&T; the consequences of the globalization of S&T and the rise of S&T capability in other nations are more likely to be economically beneficial to the United States than harmful; the United States has continued to invest in its S&T infrastructure; and the science and engineering (S&E) workforce has managed to keep up with the demand for highly skilled S&E workers through immigration. While the United States is still performing at or near the top in many measures of S&T leadership, this leadership must not be taken for granted. Persistent under-performance of older K-12 students in math and science must be investigated and addressed. Institutions and incentives to foster the creation of new S&T discoveries, the education and training of new generations of S&T workers, the nurturing of academic and industrial research centers of excellence, the protection of intellectual property, and, at the same time, the production and dissemination of basic scientific discoveries have all contributed to the unparalleled S&T leadership of the United States. Such institutions need to be sustained and, as needed, adapted to the global economy. Recommendations for policy and decision-makers to consider include: (1) Establish a permanent commitment to a funded, chartered entity responsible for periodically monitoring, critically reviewing, and analyzing U.S. S&T performance and the condition of the S&E workforce; (2) Facilitate the temporary and indefinite stay of foreigners who graduated in S&E from U.S. universities, for example, by offering them one-year automated visa extensions to seek work in the United States after completion of their study; (3) Facilitate the immigration of highly skilled labor to ensure that the benefits of expanded innovation, including spillovers, accrue to the United States and to ensure that the United States remains competitive in research and innovation; (4) Increase capacity to learn from science centers in Europe, Japan, China, India, and other countries to benefit from scientific and technological advances made elsewhere; (5) Continue to improve K-12 education in general and S&T education in particular, as human capital is a main driver of economic growth and well-being. Areas identified for further research include: (1) Factors affecting the recruiting and retention of foreign S&E talent; (2) Idea that U.S. leadership in S&E resides in a relatively small number of highly talented individuals (studying the nature of this leadership, the ability of the United States to continue to attract these individuals, and the consequences of not being able to do so); and (3) Whether and how increased employment of foreign-born S&E workers makes the United States vulnerable even as such workers add to the strength of the U.S. economy. (Contains 39 figures, 9 tables, and 4 footnotes.)
RAND Corporation. P.O. Box 2138, Santa Monica, CA 90407-2138. Tel: 877-584-8642; Tel: 310-451-7002; Fax: 412-802-4981; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: RAND National Defense Research Institute
Identifiers - Location: United States