Government R&D expenditure fell in 2021, after huge rise in pandemic-related spending on research in 2020

07 Apr 2022 | News byte


An analysis by the OECD shows governments have shrunk their budgets for research in 2021, one year after the COVID-19 pandemic forced them to boost public expenditure on science.

After a significant 15% growth in real terms in 2020, which was largely focused on health, government R&D budgets for the entire OECD area are estimated to have decreased by 4.4% in 2021 compared to 2020.

The OECD says the decline is not large enough to offset the gains in 2020, but it signals a retrenchment in government spending on research just as business R&D appears to be recovering.

The report also notes a “sustained recovery” for government expenditure on defence R&D in recent years. About 0.15% of GDP across OECD countries is dedicated to defence R&D, representing only 7.5% of the NATO guideline for total defence expenditure as a share of GDP.  The US is the OECD country with the largest reported R&D budget for defence as a percentage of GDP, followed by Korea, France and the UK.

The full report is available here.

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