30 October 2012

Does Federal R&D Drive Economic Growth?

Writing in the NYT earlier this week, Neal Lane, former science advisor to President Bill Clinton had this to say:
If our country is to remain strong and prosperous and a land of rewarding jobs, we need to understand this basic investment principle in America’s future: no science, no growth.
Even discounting for hyperbole, does the formula "no science, no growth" make sense? I have a new column up at The Breakthrough Institute on this exact subject, and I argue that such arguments actually make little sense.

Here is how my column begins:
It is a claim that you hear often in discussions of the role of research and development in the economy: “Federal investments in R&D have fueled half of the nation’s economic growth since World War II.” This particular claim appeared in a recent Washington Post op-ed co-authored by a member of the US Congress and the chief executive of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. It would be remarkable if true. Unfortunately, it is not.
To read the rest head over here, and please feel free to come back and tell me what you think.