The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) publishes its science report once every five years. The report for 2021 shows that the global average science expenditure, as a share of GDP, increased from 1.73 percent in 2014 to 1.79 percent in 2018.
The data show that China is the most aggressive of all countries in the world in increasing its science spending, with 44 percent of the incremental global R&D investment coming from China. In 2018, 24.5 percent of global R&D spending was from China, compared to 21.2 percent in 2014.
The report reads that China’s spending on science increased to 2.19 percent of GDP in 2018, compared with 2.03 percent in 2014. Meanwhile, in absolute terms, the U.S. still spends more on science than China, taking into account purchasing power parity, with $460.6 billion in the U.S. and $439 billion in China. Science spending as a share of U.S. GDP rose to 2.84 percent in 2018 from 2.72 percent in 2014. The country with the largest share of science spending in GDP is Germany, where this share increased to 3.09 percent in 2018 from 2.87 percent in 2014.
In addition, the report notes that the country with the most international patents registered is China (31.7 percent of the global total), followed by the U.S. (21.7 percent), Japan (20 percent) and the EU (13.9 percent).