Federal research and development spending as a percentage of GDP for fiscal 2020 was 0.74 percent, according to data from the American Association for the Advancement of Science. The proportion of the nation’s spending on research has fallen steadily during the past two decades, according to the association’s data. In 1977, for example, the United States spent 1.25 percent of its GDP on R&D.
In recent years, spending on science and research and development has been a routine target for budget cuts, according to a 2020 report from the investment banking firm Goldman Sachs.
“The Trump administration has repeatedly tried to cut funding from federal research and public health agencies,” Goldman Sachs pointed out in an April 2020 report.
The report noted that in the previous two decades, half of federal research funding was set aside for life sciences. Of that amount, 80 percent went to the National Institutes of Health, and yet NIH’s budget has been “essentially flat since 2004,” the report said.
As a result of cuts in federal research and development spending during both Republican and Democratic administrations, the U.S. government “now plays a much smaller role in advancing science than it did in the past,” Goldman Sachs said. “The consequence of this trend is particularly damaging for basic research, which depends on the government as its main source of funding.”