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FYI Number 103: September 13, 2002

Science & Engineering Indicators: Academic R&D Expenditures

One of the many informative tables in the National Science Board's "Science and Engineering Indicators - 2002" provides information on the growth of academic R&D in various fields of science and engineering between the years 1973 and 1999. According to the "Indicators," funding for total academic science and engineering grew by 205.7 percent, in inflation-adjusted dollars, during that period. Academic R&D in all the major fields shown below (Physical Sciences, Environmental Sciences, and Life Sciences) - except the Social Sciences - grew by more than 100 percent after inflation in this time period.

Academic R&D expenditures, for selected years and fields, are shown below. Amounts are given in constant 1996 dollars. The percentage change between 1973 and 1999 for each field or subfield, after inflation, follows.


(In millions of constant 1996 dollars)

FIELD 1973 1999 % Change
TOTAL SCIENCE & ENGINEERING $8,583 26,238 Up 205.7
PHYSICAL SCIENCES 977 2,481 Up 153.9
- Astronomy 72 372 Up 416.7
- Chemistry 338 873 Up 158.3
- Physics 497 1,090 Up 119.3
- Other 70 146 Up 108.6
LIFE SCIENCES 4,553 14,881 Up 226.8
SOCIAL SCIENCES 688 1,205 Up 75.2
TOTAL ENGINEERING 991 4,063 Up 310.0

In 1973, Physical Sciences R&D made up 11.4 percent of total academic science and engineering, while R&D in the Life Sciences represented 53.1 percent of the total. By 1999, Physical Sciences R&D had dropped to 9.5 percent of the total while Life Sciences R&D had grown to 56.7 percent.

Keep in mind that the numbers above refer only to academic R&D. The complete two-volume "Science and Engineering Indicators - 2002", including appendix tables, is available on the web at A CD-ROM of the Indicators can be ordered, free of charge, from the same site. For a hardcopy version, contact or call (301) 947-2722.

Audrey T. Leath
Media and Government Relations Division
American Institute of Physics
(301) 209-3094

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