According to a new data tool released by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) earlier this month, in absolute terms, the top 5 countries investing in R&D expenditure are the US, China, Japan, Germany, and Republic of Korea. However, as a percentage of GDP, Korea leads, followed by Israel, Japan, Finland and Sweden. The UIS data indicates that six countries invest greater than 3% of their GDP into R&D: South Korea (4.3%), Israel (4.1%), Japan (3.6%), Finland (3.2%), Sweden (3.2%) and Denmark (3.1%). Germany (3%), Switzerland (3%), Austria (2.9%) and the US (2.7%) trail behind. In Central and Eastern European regions, Slovenia is the leader of R&D investment (2.4%). Morocco leads in the Middle East (0.7%), while India (0.8%) tops the list in South and West Asia. Brazil (1.2%) leads in Latin America. Kenya, Mali and South Africa have reached the African Union’s target investment of 1%. Majority of the world’s upper-middle-income countries have an annual average growth rate of 1.4% in R&D expenditure; however, China’s average annual growth rate for R&D spending is 18.3%, largely surpassing other upper-middle-income countries. Although China’s R&D expenditure accounts for only 2% of its GDP, approximately PPP $369 billion is invested into R&D each year. The global share of R&D spending in high-income countries fell 21% in the mid-1990s, plunging from 88% in 1996 to 69.3% in 2013. However, during this time, China increased its global R&D share from 2.5% to 19.6%. China’s R&D expenditure is approaching that of the US, which represents almost 30% of the world’s R&D expenditure.

Source: UIS

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