Cell phones, satellite tracking and high-resolution cameras are not cheap to come by, but happily for the industries that use them, costs for their development have been partly picked up by defence budgets.
More than half of the US government budget for research and development is spent on defence. The UK defence R&D budget is more than a third of total government spending on research, and for France and Spain, this spending is around a quarter of the total. In 1999, US spending on defence R&D was 0.45% of GDP, and the UK and France were the next in rank, at 0.26% and 0.22% respectively.
In 1998, these three countries accounted for almost 90% of total OECD-area spending in defence R&D. The US accounted for almost 80%, and France and the UK accounted for 6% each, with Korea and Spain not far behind. That said, for the last decade military spending in OECD countries has been steadily declining. Research and development followed this trend, with the biggest decreases in Sweden by 0.23%, the US by 0.21%, and France by 0.20%.
• Science, Technology and Industry Scoreboard: Towards a Knowledge-Based Economy, OECD, 2001.
©OECD Observer No 229, November 2001