OECD Factbook 2013: Economic, Environmental and Social Statistics
branch Science and technology
branch Research and Development
    branch Expenditure on R&D

Expenditure on research and development (R&D) is a key indicator of countries' innovative efforts.


Research and development (R&D) comprise creative work undertaken on a systematic basis in order to increase the stock of knowledge (including knowledge of man, culture and society) and the use of this knowledge to devise new applications. R&D covers three activities: basic research, applied research, and experimental development. Basic research is experimental or theoretical work undertaken primarily to acquire new knowledge of the underlying foundation of phenomena and observable facts, without any particular application or use in view. Applied research is also original investigation undertaken in order to acquire new knowledge; it is, however, directed primarily towards a specific practical aim or objective. Experimental development is systematic work, drawing on existing knowledge gained from research and/or practical experience, which is directed to producing new materials, products or devices, to installing new processes, systems and services, or to improving substantially those already produced or installed.

The main aggregate used for international comparisons is gross domestic expenditure on R&D (GERD). This consists of the total expenditure (current and capital) on R&D carried out by all resident companies, research institutes, university and government laboratories, etc. It includes R&D funded from abroad but excludes domestic funds for R&D performed outside the domestic economy. GERD is here expressed in constant 2005 dollars (adjusted for purchasing power parity) and as a share of GDP (R&D intensity).


The R&D data shown here have been compiled according to the guidelines of the OECD Frascati Manual. Estimates of the resources allocated to R&D are affected by national characteristics such as the periodicity and coverage of national R&D surveys across institutional sectors and industries (and the inclusion of firms and organisations of different sizes); and the use of different sampling and estimation methods. R&D typically involves a few large performers, hence R&D surveys use various techniques to maintain up-to-date registers of known performers, while attempting to identify new or occasional performers.

Data for Israel exclude defence. Those for Korea, prior to 2007, exclude social sciences and the humanities. For the United States, R&D capital expenditures are excluded and depreciation charges of the business enterprises are included.


Among OECD countries, the United States is the main performer with 42% of the total OECD GERD in 2009, followed by Japan (15%) and Germany (9%). Since 1999, real R&D expenditure has been growing the fastest in Estonia, Korea, Portugal and Turkey, with average annual growth rates around 10%. Outside the OECD area, China's average annual real growth in R&D spending has been close to 20%, making it the world's second largest R&D performer and ahead of Japan since 2009.

In 2009, R&D amounted to 2.4% of GDP for the OECD as a whole. Denmark, Finland, Israel, Japan, Korea and Sweden were the only OECD countries whose R&D-to-GDP ratio exceeded 3%.

Over the last decade, R&D intensity grew in the EU (from 1.74% to 1.91%), in Japan (from 3.00% to 3.26%) and in the United States (from 2.71% to 2.90%). Estonia, Korea, Portugal and Turkey were the fastest growing OECD countries. In the same period (2000-10), R&D intensity in China almost doubled, increasing from 0.90% to 1.77%.



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Gross domestic expenditure on R&D
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Gross domestic expenditure on R&D Figure in Excel
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