Sum of knowledge

OECD Observer

Click to enlarge.

How much do our knowledge-based societies actually invest in knowledge? One way to find out, according to OECD Science, Technology and Industry Scoreboard published in May, is to work out the sum of three spending areas: R&D, higher education (public and private) and software. The figures are reworked where possible to avoid overlap between, say, education and R&D.

Nor does the available data include areas like spending on business innovation, design, training, organisation and the like. With these caveats in mind, the latest comparable data for the OECD comes from 2000, when average investment in knowledge came to 4.8% of GDP. Sweden spent the most on knowledge, with 7.2% of GDP, followed by the US (6.8%) and Finland (6.2%). Overall, the ratio is 2.8 percentage points higher in the US than in the EU. Investment in knowledge was lowest (below 2.5% of GDP) in southern and central Europe, and Mexico.

Most OECD countries have increased spending in their knowledge base, the Scoreboard reports. In the 1990s, Denmark, Ireland, Finland and Sweden increased it by more than 7.5% annually, far above their increase in gross fixed capital formation, though this item grew more rapidly than knowledge investment in Australia, Canada and the US. For most countries, increases in software expenditure were the major source of increased investment in knowledge.

©OECD Observer No 244, September 2004




Economic data

GDP growth: +0.5% Q2 2019 year-on-year
Consumer price inflation: 1.9% August 2019 annual
Trade: +0.4% exp, -1.2% imp, Q1 2019
Unemployment: 5.1% August 2019
Last update: 9 September 2019

OECD Observer Newsletter

Stay up-to-date with the latest news from the OECD by signing up for our e-newsletter :

Twitter feed

Subscribe now

<b>Subscribe now!</b>

Have the OECD Observer delivered
to your door



Edition Q2 2019

Previous editions

Don't miss

Most Popular Articles

NOTE: All signed articles in the OECD Observer express the opinions of the authors
and do not necessarily represent the official views of OECD member countries.

All rights reserved. OECD 2019