UNESCO Science Report

Facts and Figures from the UNESCO Science Report

Human resources

There were 7.8 million full-time equivalent researchers in 2013, representing growth of 21% since 2007. Researchers accounted for 0.1% of the global population.

Mobility in higher education

The number of international students rose from 2.8 million to 4.1 million between 2005 and 2013.
As of 2012, five countries had more than 10 000 of their doctoral students living abroad: China (58 492), India (30 291), Germany (13 606), Iran (12 180) and the Republic of Korea (11 925). Ten others had more than 4 000 (Italy, Canada, USA, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, France, Viet Nam, Turkey, Pakistan, Brazil), offering a strong impetus for future international scientific co-operation.

R&D expenditure

Global gross expenditure on research and development (GERD) totalled 1.48 trillion PPP (purchasing power parity) dollars in 2013.
World GERD grew faster (30.5%) than the global economy (20.1%) between 2007 and 2013. This was largely because the private sector in wealthier countries maintained or increased its own level of spending on R&D over this period, even though public commitment to R&D declined in many of these countries in the context of austerity budgets.

Business and innovation

The global average for business R&D was 1.08% of GDP in 2001 and 1.15% in 2011.
China and India are capturing a greater share of business R&D than before, to the detriment of Western Europe and North America. China and India’s combined world share of business R&D rose from 5.1% to 19.9% between 2001 and 2011. Over the same period, the world share of Western Europe declined from 24.3% to 19.7% and that of North America from 40.7% to 29.3%.


Between 2008 and 2014, the number of scientific articles catalogued in the Science Citation Index of Thomson Reuters’ Web of Science grew by 23%, from 1 029 471 to 1 270 425. Growth was strongest among the upper middle-income economies (94%), primarily driven by growth in Chinese publications (151%).