Source: NST, Jun 2018
In 2013, the Unesco Science Report 2030 reported there were 7.8 million full-time (or equivalent) researchers. That works out to 1,083 per 1 million inhabitants, or about 0.1 per cent of the global population.
The Big Five — the European Union (EU), China, United States, Japan, and Russia — account for 72 per cent of researchers worldwide. The US and China alone account for more than one third.
Incidentally, these countries also produce the most research publications — roughly 34 per cent, 20 per cent, 25 per cent, 6.0 per cent and 2.0 per cent, respectively.
With roughly 2,600 researchers per million people (2013), Malaysia is well behind South Korea (8,329), Singapore (7,247) and Japan (7,019), but well ahead of Vietnam (1,170), and Thailand (769).
Estimated global gross expenditure on research and development (GERD) is US$1.48 trillion (expressed in purchasing power parity).
World shares of GERD for the EU, China, US, Japan, and Russia were about 22 per cent, 19 per cent, 17 per cent, 9.0 per cent and 6.0 per cent, respectively.
High-income economies continue to generate the bulk of global R&D expenditure. In fact, the G20 countries account for 87 per cent of the world’s researchers, 92 per cent of global research expenditure and 94 per cent of the world’s scientific publications.
In contrast, as recently reported in this column, the 47 Least Developed Countries, with a population of close to one billion, contributed less than 0.4 per cent of the world’s total scientific publications in 2016.
Besides GERD, another useful yardstick is the ratio of the level of financial resources devoted to R&D as a share of gross domestic product (GDP).
The 2013-2014 figures show spending on R&D activities by the EU, China, US, Japan and Russian Federation were roughly 2.0 per cent, 2.0 per cent, 3.0 per cent, 4.0 per cent and 1.0 per cent, respectively.