Research and development expenditure (% of GDP)

Definition: Expenditures for research and development are current and capital expenditures (both public and private) on creative work undertaken systematically to increase knowledge, including knowledge of humanity, culture, and society, and the use of knowledge for new applications. R&D covers basic research, applied research, and experimental development.

Description: The map below shows how Research and development expenditure (% of GDP) varies by country. The shade of the country corresponds to the magnitude of the indicator. The darker the shade, the higher the value. The country with the highest value in the world is Israel, with a value of 4.27. The country with the lowest value in the world is Madagascar, with a value of 0.02.

Source: United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Institute for Statistics.

See also: Country ranking, Time series comparison

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Development Relevance: Expenditure on research and development (R&D) is a key indicator of government and private sector efforts to obtain competitive advantage in science and technology. Estimates of the resources allocated to R&D are affected by national characteristics such as the periodicity and coverage of national R&D surveys across institutional sectors and industries; and the use of different sampling and estimation methods. R&D typically involves a few large performers, hence R&D surveys use various techniques to maintain up-to-date registers of known performers, while attempting to identify new or occasional performers. R&D expenditures include expenditures from all sources for R&D performed within a country, including capital expenditures and current costs (wages and associated costs of researchers, technicians, and other supporting staff and other current costs, including noncapital purchases of materials, supplies, and minor equipment to support R&D such as utilities, reference materials, subscriptions to libraries and scientific societies, and materials for laboratories). The gross domestic expenditure on R&D (GERD) indicator is used for international comparisons. This consists of the total expenditure (current and capital) on R&D by all resident companies, research institutes, university and government laboratories, etc. It excludes R&D expenditures financed by domestic firms but performed abroad. GERD is here expressed as a share of GDP. Research and development (R&D) comprise creative work undertaken on a systematic basis in order to increase the stock of knowledge, and the use of this knowledge to devise new applications. R&D covers three main activities: (1) Basic research - Basic research is experimental or theoretical work undertaken primarily to acquire new knowledge of the underlying foundation of phenomena and observable facts, without any particular application or use in view (2) Applied research - Applied research is also original investigation undertaken in order to acquire new knowledge; it is, however, directed primarily towards a specific practical aim or objective. (3) Experimental development - Experimental development is systematic work, drawing on existing knowledge gained from research and/or practical experience, which is directed to producing new materials, products or devices, to installing new processes, systems and services, or to improving substantially those already produced or installed.

Limitations and Exceptions: The OECD's Frascati Manual defines research and experimental development as "creative work undertaken on a systemic basis in order to increase the stock of knowledge, including knowledge of man, culture and society, and the use of this stock of knowledge to devise new applications." R&D covers basic research, applied research, and experimental development. Data on researchers and technicians in R&D are measured in both full-time equivalent and headcount but are shown in full-time equivalent only. The data are obtained through statistical surveys which are regularly conducted at national level covering R & D performing entities in the private and public sectors.

Statistical Concept and Methodology: Total domestic intramural expenditure on R&D during a given period as a percentage of the GDP (i.e. the sum of gross value added by all resident producers in the economy, including distributive trades and transport, plus any product taxes and minus any subsidies not included in the value of the products). The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Institute for Statistics collects data on researchers, technicians, and expenditure on research and development (R&D) through its biennial R&D survey and from other international partners such as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Eurostat, and the Network for Science and Technology Indicators - Ibero-American and Inter-American.

Aggregation method: Weighted average

Periodicity: Annual