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Our 2018 forecast is a combination of the industrial, government and academic investments by the R&D spending countries of the world. The investments made by these countries are largely influenced by value and growth of their gross domestic product (GDP). We base our R&D forecasts for each country on economic forecasts and science and technology (S&T) survey data by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), and the U. S. Central Intelligence Agency, along with multiple reader surveys performed by the editors of R&D Magazine. Economic data are combined with published relationships of each country’s science and technology efforts to create the R&D forecasts.
The continuing large annual increases in Chinese R&D investments (non-stop for more than 20 years) and the inability of the U.S. to match those increases results in a forecast of China outspending the U.S. (for the very first time) in R&D ($622 billion for China vs $599 billion for the U.S.) in 2021. This nearly 4% difference can be partially explained by a 2% improvement in China’s annual GDP compared to a 4% decline in U.S. annual GDP for 2020.