However you measure it, federal investment in research and development is in steep decline. As a share of the government’s budget, this year’s outlays will be the lowest since 1968, while as a share of the country’s economy this year’s figure will be $100 billion lower than the equivalent amount in 1983. A new study from MIT documents the consequences of this underinvestment. It provides numerous, tangible examples of missed opportunities to advance the frontiers of science, and it underscores the stakes for U.S. leadership in advanced technologies—from Alzheimer’s and infectious diseases discoveries in health care; to quantum computing, cybersecurity, and photonics in information technology; to fusion energy and advanced batteries; to space exploration and defense technologies.
The Future Postponed: Why Declining Investment in Basic Research Threatens a U.S. Innovation Deficit paints a bleak picture of the costs associated with constrained federal R&D budgets as it connects the dots between our national commitment to scientific and technological research and our future prospects for U.S. economic competitiveness and national security.