The number of researchers in developing countries jumped from 1.8 million to 2.7 million in five years (2002-2007), according to the new data release from the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS). The rise in numbers of researchers equates to a 45% increase, from 344 to 499 researchers per million inhabitants in developing countries. During the same period, the number of researchers in developed countries increased by only 8.6% to 4.4 million. In relative terms, this amounts to 3,592 researchers per million inhabitants, still far more than in developing countries.
The information was collected through the third UIS survey on statistics of science and technology (S&T), which is conducted every two years. It focuses on human resources devoted to research and development (R&D), as well as expenditure on R&D. Results of the survey reveal global and regional trends in the allocation of R&D resources.
Between 2002 and 2007, developing countries increased their global share of researchers by 8.1% (from 30.3% to 38.4%). They accounted for 24% of the total gross domestic expenditure on R&D in 2007, which is an increase from 17% of the global share seen in 2002.
R&D investment has also intensified in developing countries. The UIS measures R&D intensity by calculating national R&D expenditure as a percentage of the gross domestic product (GDP). A 1% R&D intensity level is often used as a benchmark and target for policymakers in developing countries. They appear to be on the right track, reporting substantial increases from 0.8% in 2002 to 1.0% in 2007. Caution must be used in interpreting the results since the averages hide the wide variation found across countries. China, for example, heavily influenced these results with an increase from 1.1% in 2002 to 1.5% in 2007, accounting for 39% of R&D expenditure and 53% of researchers in developing countries.
Only six other countries in this grouping reported R&D intensities of 1% or more, indicating that many countries still have significant gains to make in their R&D efforts.
The UIS S&T survey was carried out in 2008 in 149 developing countries and territories. Data for developed countries were collected from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and Eurostat (the statistical office of the European Commision) for their respective Member States. For Latin-America and the Caribbean, the UIS has a data sharing agreement with RICYT (the Latin American Network on Science and Technology Indicators). Full results of the survey can be accessed at the UIS Data Centre.
- Learn more - Link directly to the UIS S&T survey results