Science Race

(Is United States Losing the Science Race?)

Global Competitiveness and Competition in Danger

Science and engineering in the United States are in dangerous decline—and the country needs a concentrated effort to reverse the trend.

  • "America today faces a serious and intensifying challenge with regard to its future competitiveness and standard of living," said Norman Augustine, a retired Lockheed Martin chairman. "Further, we appear to be on a losing path."
  • The performance of U.S. students in middle and high schools on international math and science exams is below the average of 38 other countries.
  • Even advanced American math and physics students score near dead last among students in twenty tested countries.
  • Since 1990 the number of bachelor's degrees in engineering has declined eight percent; in mathematics, 20 percent.
  • While thirty-two percent of U.S. students graduate with degrees in science and engineering, the figure in China is fifty-nine percent.
  • Fewer graduates means less research.
  • The Asian-Pacific share of published scientific papers has increased in the last few years and will likely outstrip that of the United States in six or seven years.
  • Declines by the U.S. may be reflected in the business of science; the National Academies reported the U.S. share of global high-tech exports fell during the last two decades from 30 to 17 percent, and its share of manufactured goods dropped from +33 billion dollars in 1990 to –24 billion dollars in 2004.
  • It has been suggested that there should be a greater offering of scholarships to draw top students into math, science, engineering, and technology.
—From "U.S. Losing the Science Race", Discover Magazine, January, 2006.

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Related articles about science: STEM, Part 1; STEM, Part 2; Scientific Specialties.