Directorate for Science, Technology and Innovation

Main Science and Technology Indicators


Last update: MSTI 2018/1 (July 2018)
Next update: MSTI 2018/2 (February 2019)

Main Science and Technology Indicators full database

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The latest available data show that R&D intensity - expenditure on R&D as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) - across OECD countries remained relatively stable at 2.3% in 2016. Israel and Korea continued to have the highest R&D intensities, 4.25% and 4.23% respectively. R&D intensity in the EU area fell slightly from 1.96% in 2015 to 1.93% in 2016, remained stable at 2.7% in the United States, and declined for a second successive year in Japan to 3.1%. Meanwhile, China continued its steady increase, reaching 2.11% in 2016.


Across OECD countries, real expenditure on R&D grew by 0.9% in 2016. Business enterprises, which undertook 69% of total R&D in the OECD in 2016, saw lower growth of 0.9%, while government R&D plateaued but higher education R&D expenditure grew by 1% in real terms.


In the OECD countries for which 2017 data are available, government budget allocations for R&D are estimated to remaine stable in 2017 (+0.1% in real terms). In 2016, they increased by 2.4%, after a long period of declining R&D budgets; nevertheless, they remain 8% below their 2009 level, having fallen by 10% in the period to 2015. Related to this, government-financed R&D, as recorded by surveys of R&D performers (rather than amounts budgeted for R&D by government) declined by 3.2% between 2010 and 2014 but registered a rise of 0.7% in 2015.


The above figures do not include the cost of tax incentives for business R&D; where they exist, these would not typically be captured in government R&D budget figures (as they are foregone tax revenues rather than expenditures). R&D tax incentives have been increasing in many countries but not always by enough to offset budget cuts. Country profiles with the latest OECD data on the cost and design of R&D tax incentives are being launched alongside the MSTI release and provide an up-to-date and comprehensive overview of government efforts to incentivise business R&D across OECD and other major economies (


In 2016, the number of patents filed under the Patent Cooperation Treaty rose in China (+7%), in the EU (+3%), in Japan (+4%) and in the United States (+3%). As of 2015, China inventors rank first regarding ICT-related patent applications. 


About MSTI

The MSTI database provides a set of indicators that reflect the level and structure of efforts in the field of science and technology undertaken from 1981 onwards by OECD Member countries and seven non-member economies: Argentina, China, Romania, Russian Federation, Singapore, South Africa, Chinese Taipei.  These data include final or provisional results as well as forecasts established by government authorities.  The indicators cover the resources devoted to research and development, patent families, technology balance of payments and international trade in R&D-intensive industries.

Indicators on R&D expenditures, budgets, and personnel are derived from the OECD’s Research and Development Statistics database (RDS), which is based on the data reported to OECD and Eurostat in the framework of the joint OECD/Eurostat international data collection on resources devoted to R&D.

The sources for the other indicators include the OECD databases on Activities of Multinational Enterprises (AMNE), on Bilateral Trade in Goods by Industry and End-use category database (BTDIxE), on Patents, and the Technological Balance of Payments (TBP).

Details of coverage


Accessing MSTI

The electronic edition is available via the OECD’s data dissemination service, “OECD.stat”From there, the MSTI Excel file can be downloaded by clicking “export” and then “related files”. The MSTI database is also available online through OECDiLibrary.

The OECD R&D and GBARD Sources and Methods Database contains metadata relating to series presented in MSTI and RDS.


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