A newsfeed from the Science and Development Network brought me to this article on science spending. The article is based on the UNESCO Science Report 2005. We have heard a lot of talk about how Asia is catching up with Europe in terms of spending on R&D and Science. In the case of science spending, Asia has already overtaken Europe, mainly due to China’s increase in spending on science.

It says that from 1997 to 2002, Asian funding from public and private sources rose by four per cent, enabling Asia to account for 32 per cent of global research spending. In those five years, China’s share of global spending more than doubled, from four to nine per cent. Meanwhile, the Latin America and the Caribbean region’s share of the global total fell from 3.1 per cent to 2.6 per cent. Arab countries in the Middle East and North Africa contributed just 0.1 per cent of the global total

But what probably surprised me more were the figures on the spending per researcher. This number is very low for the Asian states of the former Soviet Union: US$ 8,900. The average spending per researcher in OECD countries is US$ 191,900, while for the United States this is US$ 230,000 and for the EU the number is US$177,000. Most surprising are the countries that spend most per researcher:

1. Israel US$ 661,000
2. South Africa US$ 357,600
3. Brazil US$ 238,000

I can image that the high numbers in Israel (and in the US) are somehow related to military spending (this table shows that Israel and the US also rank 1st and 2nd in gross expenditure on R&D per inhabitant: 922 resp. 1005 US$ per inhabitant). But why do Brazil and especially South Africa spent so much money per researcher?

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