The Nordic countries and Japan have a large number of people assigned to R&D in relation to the total labour force. In 1997 some 1.6% of the labour force was working in R&D in Finland, more than 1.5% in Sweden and 1.3% in Japan. Not far behind were Denmark, France, Germany and the Netherlands, where research personnel accounted for over 1% of the labour force. But in technologically lagging countries, such as Mexico, Turkey and Greece, the proportion did not exceed 0.1%.
Data on R&D personnel help to gauge the extent of a country’s R&D activity. They depend on a number of different factors, including research outlays, the skills level of the labour force, industrial specialisation and, of course, government funding. The data available encompass all persons performing R&D, though people providing services directly linked to R&D work, such as managers, administrators and office workers, are also included. Such professionals fall into three categories: researchers, scientists and engineers; technicians and similar personnel; and support staff. The chart incorporates all categories of personnel assigned to R&D, except for the United States, where only the number of researchers is available.
The breakdown of R&D workers between the public and business sectors varies by country. The large size of R&D personnel in the public sectors of New Zealand and Australia reflects the fact that the indicators for those countries include R&D staff working in universities.
©OECD Observer No 220, April 2000