The U.S. annual total of R&D is now back on a strong expansionary path ($548 billion in 2017) due, particularly, to sizable annual increases in business R&D performance. Adjusted for inflation, the U.S. R&D total over 2010–17 grew modestly faster that U.S. GDP (with average annual growth rates, respectively, of 2.7% and 2.2%).

In 2017, the United States remains the world’s top R&D performer (as it long has been), accounting for 25% of the global total. China, however, has closed the gap even further, at $496 billion in 2017 and 23% of the global total, with an average annual growth rate nearly three times as high as that of the United States.

The global concentration of R&D performance continues to shift from the United States and Europe to South Asia and East-Southeast Asia (including China, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and other countries or economies). In 2017, this part of Asia accounted for 42% of the global R&D total, up from 25% in 2000. Over the same period, the U.S. share significantly declined, from 37% in 2000 to 25% in 2017. Similarly, Europe accounted for 27% in 2000 but declined to 21% in 2017.

In 2017, the U.S. R&D-to-GDP ratio (2.8%) matches the highest levels evident over the long time-series available for this indicator since the early 1950s. Present U.S. spending for basic research, applied research, and experimental development continues to increase and is at historical highs in these three categories. Nonetheless, the challenges to U.S. R&D leadership from countries abroad, particularly in Asia, continue unabated.