Statistical Yearbook for Asia and the Pacific 2012
 
   
C. Education and knowledge
 
C.4. Research and development

Research and development (R&D) is a critical element in the transition towards a knowledgebased economy. It also contributes to increased productivity, which means that more output can be produced from a given set of inputs. Because R&D leads to new and innovative products and processes, businesses undertake R&D to have a competitive advantage. Governments also sponsor R&D to encourage both basic and applied research in diverse fields, including new medicines and cleaner energy sources.

In the Asian and Pacific region, China and Japan have the largest expenditures on R&D.

China spent more than $140 billion 2005 purchasing power parity (PPP) on R&D in the latest year (2009), by far the largest investor in this area, followed by Japan, with close to $127 billion (2005 PPP, 2009). The region’s other large investors in R&D include the Republic of Korea ($49 billion, 2005 PPP, 2010) and the Russian Federation ($23 billion, 2005 PPP, 2010). Investment in R&D is critical for these countries to maintain their competitive advantage.

There are significant variations between countries in the region with regard to the level of spending. Of those countries for which recent data exist, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia and Tajikistan each spent between $10 million (2005 PPP) and $23 million (2005 PPP) in 2009, which follows the global pattern of developed countries generally carrying out more R&D. This might be because developed countries are more highly industrialized and companies must continually improve their production processes and products to remain competitive.

Some countries in the Asian and Pacific region are among the world’s leaders in terms of expenditure on R&D as a share of GDP.

The amount of resources invested in R&D as a share of total GDP reflects the relative importance of R&D in the national economy. Many countries have set a target of investing 1 per cent of their GDP in R&D, and some developed countries set their target at 3 per cent. Among the world’s top 25 countries that spent the greatest share of their GDP on R&D, 5 are in the Asian and Pacific region: Republic of Korea (3.7 per cent); Japan (3.4 per cent); Australia (2.4 per cent); Singapore (2.4 per cent); and China (1.7 per cent). The remainder of the top spenders on the list, with the exception of Israel and the United States, are in Europe. The above pattern is the same when expenditure on R&D is expressed in 2005 PPP per capita with the exception of China, which in this case is not one of the top 25 countries. On the other hand, investment in R&D in many countries in the region remains relatively low. For instance, of those countries and areas for which recent data exist, Azerbaijan, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan and Thailand along with Macao, China, spent between 0.1 per cent and 0.2 per cent of their respective GDPs on R&D (data for 2010 or most recent year since 2006).

Figure C.4-1
Expenditure on research and development as a share of GDP, Asia and the Pacific, earliest (2000 or 2001) and latest year (2006-2010)

Figure C.4-1 Expenditure on research and development as a share of GDP, Asia and the Pacific, earliest (2000 or 2001) and latest year (2006-2010)The inclusion of China in the top 25 countries in the world for expenditure on R&D as a share of GDP is relatively recent, however; in 2000, China ranked thirty-second in the world of the 86 countries for which data were available. The Republic of Korea also moved from being ranked ninth in 2000 to third in 2010. In contrast, over the same time period, the Russian Federation fell out of the top 25 to be ranked thirty-second in 2010.1

Growth in R&D spending in Asia and the Pacific may indicate the economic and social transition that many parts of the region have been going through. Examples of countries and areas that have more than doubled their expenditure on R&D in current PPP$ per capita in the last decade are China, the Republic of Korea, the Russian Federation, Turkey and Hong Kong, China.

Furthermore, while only a few of the developed countries in the region are classified as world leaders in terms of expenditure on R&D, the benefits of R&D can be shared across the region from developed to developing countries, which can be done through trade in new products and people-to-people transfers. This suggests that the increased spending on R&D in aggregate in the region over the last decade is good news for all countries.

Figure C.4-2
Gross domestic expenditure on research and development, current PPP$ per capita, Asia and the Pacific, 2001 and latest (2009-2010)

Figure C.4-2 Gross domestic expenditure on research and development, current PPP$ per capita, Asia and the Pacific, 2001 and latest (2009-2010)Note: Data for 2010 include observations from 2009 when 2010 data are missing. Data for 2001 include observation for 1999 for New Zealand

Almost 40 per cent of all researchers in the world are located in Asia and the Pacific.

Human resources in R&D provide another measure of total R&D in each country. In the region, many of the countries with the highest R&D spending also have higher numbers of researchers. Measured by the number of fulltime- equivalent researchers per million inhabitants, some countries in the region are among the top 20 in the world, including Singapore (6,173), the Republic of Korea (5,481), Japan (5,180), New Zealand (4,951) and Australia (4,294). In aggregate, the Asian and Pacific region was home to 38 per cent of the world’s researchers in 2009, while 31 per cent were located in Europe and 27 per cent in the Americas.2

On average, female researchers are underrepresented in R&D in the region.

In a headcount of researchers in R&D, women made up about half of the entire research force in several countries in the region, which means that these countries have reached, or have become close to reaching, gender parity in the last decade. These countries include Georgia (52.7 per cent), Azerbaijan (52.4 per cent), the Philippines (52.3 per cent), Thailand (51.2 per cent), Kazakhstan (48.5 per cent), Mongolia (48.1 per cent) and Armenia (45.7 per cent). On the other hand, some of the countries with the highest number of full-time-equivalent researchers have the lowest female representation, including Japan and the Republic of Korea. In fact, in a headcount of total R&D personnel in each of these countries, women represented 16.7 per cent in the Republic of Korea (2010) and 13.6 per cent in Japan (2009).

Figure C.4-3
Number of full-time-equivalent researchers per million population, Asia and the Pacific, latest year (2005-2010)

Figure C.4-3 Number of full-time-equivalent researchers per million population, Asia and the Pacific, latest year (2005-2010)The lower levels of female representation in these countries with a relatively large R&D force have an obvious impact on the regional picture; in 2009, only 18.2 per cent of personnel employed in R&D in Asia were female. In comparison, the figure was 42.5 per cent in Latin America and the Caribbean, 39.2 per cent in the Pacific, 34.5 per cent in Africa and 34.0 per cent in Europe.3 These regional averages also reflect a global underrepresentation of women in R&D.

 

Figure C.4-4
Number of women researchers as a share of the headcount of researchers working in research and development, Asia and the Pacific, latest year (2005-2010)

Figure C.4-4 Number of women researchers as a share of the headcount of researchers working in research and development, Asia and the Pacific, latest year (2005-2010)

Further reading

UNESCO Institute for Statistics and Directorate for Science, Technology and Industry of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. “Report of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development on statistics of science and technology”. E/CN.3/2004/15 (a report to the United Nations Statistical Commission). Available from www.uis.unesco.org/Library/ Pages/DocumentMorePage.aspx?docIdValue=203&docIdFld=ID.

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. UNESCO Science Report 2010: The Current Status of Science around the World. Paris, 2010. Available from www.uis.unesco.org/ Library/Pages/DocumentMorePage.aspx?docIdValue=398&docIdFld=ID.

________. Science, Technology and Gender: An International Report. Paris, 2007. Available from http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0015/001540/154045e.pdf.

Technical notes

Gross domestic expenditure on R&D (percentage of GDP, current PPP dollars per capita, 1,000 2005 PPP dollars)
The expenditure on R&D performed on the national territory during a given period. It includes R&D funds allocated by: (a) firms, organizations and institutions whose primary activity is the market production of goods and services for sale to the general public; (b) the central (federal), regional/state/provincial or local government authorities, including all departments, offices and other bodies that furnish, but normally do not sell to the community, those common services, other than higher education; (c) institutions of higher education comprising all universities, colleges of technology, other institutions of post-secondary education, and all research institutes, experimental stations and clinics operating under the direct control of or administered by or associated with higher education establishments; (d) non-market, private non-profit institutions serving the general public, as well as private individuals and households; and (e) institutions and individuals located outside the political borders of a country, except vehicles, ships, aircraft and space satellites operated by domestic organizations and testing grounds acquired by such organizations, and by all international organizations (except business enterprises), including their facilities and operations within the national borders.

Researchers, full-time equivalents (per million inhabitants)
Researchers are professionals engaged in the conceptualization or creation of new knowledge, products, processes, methods and systems, and in the planning and management of R&D projects. Postgraduate students at the doctoral level (International Standard Classification of Education level 6) who are engaged in R&D are considered researchers. Full-time equivalents represent one person-year; for example, an individual working 30 per cent on R&D is considered 0.3 full-time equivalent.

Women researchers (percentage of R&D headcount)
Female researchers expressed as a percentage of R&D headcount. Headcount data reflect the total number of persons employed in R&D, whether they work part-time or full-time.

Source
Source of R&D data: UIS Data Centre. Collected from R&D surveys. Data obtained: for gross domestic expenditure on 25 June 2013; for other indicators on 26 September 2012.
____________________
1 Data are for either 2000 or the most recent year available since 1996.
2 UNESCO Institute for Statistics, “Human resources in R&D”, UIS Fact Sheet, No. 21 (December 2012). Available from www.uis.unesco.org/FactSheets/Pages/ScienceTech.aspx (accessed 13 June 2013).
 
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