Scientific Innovation and Economic Growth

Posted on August 24, 2006  Comments (0)

Reform, Innovation, and Economic Growth by President Levin, Yale University president, speaking at the University of Tokyo:

Performance scores in mathematics, problem solving, science, and reading for Japanese students are significantly ahead of their peers elsewhere; and the Japanese public and private financial commitment to education is also among the strongest. Taken together, the result has been that Japan has one of the best-educated workforces in the world, particularly in science and technology.

The superior education of the labor force and a large and well-trained pool of engineers contributed mightily to Japan’s rapid growth from 1945 to 1990.

In fostering science-based innovation, the United States has drawn upon two national characteristics that have long been a source of advantage: the ready availability of capital and the relative absence of barriers to the formation of new firms. These institutional features help with the rapid translation of science into industrial practice. But the United States government also recognized, in the immediate aftermath of World War II, that public investment was essential to generate steady progress in basic science. Scientific discoveries are the foundation of industrial technology.

A recent study prepared for the National Science Foundation found that 73% of the main science papers cited in industrial patents granted in the U.S. were based on research financed by government or nonprofit agencies and carried out in large part in university laboratories.

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