Closing the R&D Gap
This study identifies a clear need for government policy to address the widening R&D gap between the United States, Japan and Germany. In 1991, the United States spent only 1.9 percent of its GDP on nondefense R&D compared to 3 percent for Japan and 2.7 percent for Germany. The possibility that his gap can be closed through tax incentives, such as the Research and Experimentation tax credit, appears highly unlikely. A detailed review of this credit shows that it had a relatively minor impact on R&D spending since its inception in 1981. More direct policies are likely to be required if this gap is to be narrowed. Immediate gains can be made in the conversion of military R&D expenditures to address other public needs. While the federal government has reduced its real expenditures for military R&D since 1987, the corresponding increase in nondefense R&D has not kept up with GDP growth. The failure to convert military to nonmilitary R&D will only exasperate the current R&D gap and jeopardize U.S. shares of high technology markets. Finally there is the question of how to improve the federal R&D program. In particular, the congressional practice of earmarking academic R&D funds and the Department of Defense's (DOD) policy of reimbursing independent R&D, lack accountability. Furthermore, nondefense R&D projects should be administered by the appropriate federal agency rather than by DOD which has inherited several as a result of economic conversion. Finally, a process needs to be established for evaluating the effectiveness of government R&D expenditures.
|Date of creation:||05 Feb 1999|
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2745, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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- Kortum, Samuel, 1993. "Equilibrium R&D and the Patent-R&D Ratio: U.S. Evidence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(2), pages 450-57, May.
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