See which countries fund the most scientific research

China ranks second only to the U.S.—thanks to a big boost in government spending.

This story appears in the May 2019 issue of National Geographic magazine.

Science is getting a boost in China. Research funding is second only to that of the United States, and the largesse is bearing fruit: The number of papers that Chinese scientists published in major journals rose 17 percent from 2016 to 2018.

Reversing the brain drain

In 2013 nine out of 10 Chinese students were still in the U.S. five years after earning Ph.D.’s. In 2017 more than 480,000 scholars in advanced studies abroad returned to China.

Countries with the most

science research funding:

United States

China

Germany

France

United Kingdom

Japan

SWITZerland

Physical scienceS 34%

EARTH & ENVIRONMENT

10%

Life scienceS

36%

Chemistry 21%

scientific papers by field

24%

32%

16%

12%

7

6

3

by country

14%

12%

10%

7

6

5

5

4

4

4

4

4

4

3

3

3

3

3

3

2

top 20 institutions

institution type

United States

Chem.

Life sci.

PHYS. SCI.

EARTH & eNVIRON.

scientific papers by field

32%

by country

7%

5

5

4

3

3

3

3

top 20 institutions

institution type

Academic

Government

China

Chem.

Life sci.

PHYS. SCI.

EARTH & eNVIRON.

scientific papers by field

24%

by country

14%

4

4

3

top 20 institutions

institution type

Academic

Government

The world’s largest research institution is

backed by the Chinese government. The Chi

nese Academy of Sciences consists of 60,000

scientists in 114 institutions and maintains most

of the country’s big science facilities.

Germany

Chem.

Life sci.

PHYS. SCI.

EARTH & eNVIRON.

scientific papers by field

16%

by country

10%

6

top 20 institutions

institution type

Academic

France

Chem.

Life sci.

PHYS. SCI.

EARTH & eNVIRON.

scientific papers by field

12%

by country

12%

top 20 institutions

institution type

Government

United Kingdom

Chem.

Life sci.

PHYS. SCI.

EARTH & eNVIRON.

scientific papers by field

7

by country

4

4

top 20 institutions

institution type

Academic

SWITZerland

Life sci.

PHYS. SCI.

Chem.

EARTH & eNVIRON.

scientific papers by field

3

by country

3

top 20 institutions

institution type

Academic

Japan

Chem.

Life sci.

PHYS. SCI.

EARTH & eNVIRON.

scientific papers by field

6

by country

4

2

top 20 institutions

institution type

Academic

French National Center for Scientific Research

Helmholtz Association of German

Research Centers

Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich

nongovernmental organization/nonprofIT

organization

PERCENTAGES MAY NOT ADD up TO 100

DUE TO ROUNDING.

sources: nature index; R&D magazine;

ICEF Monitor

EARTH & ENVIRONMENT

10%

Life scienceS

36%

Physical scienceS 34%

Chemistry 21%

scientific papers by field

China

24%

United States

32%

Germany

16%

France

12%

U.K.

7

Japan

6

SWITZ.

3

by country

14%

12%

10%

7

6

5

5

4

4

4

4

4

4

3

3

3

3

3

3

2

top 20 institutions

The world’s largest

research institution is

backed by the Chinese

government. The

Chinese Academy of

Sciences consists of

60,000 scientists in

114 institutions and

maintains most of

the country’s big

science facilities.

institution type

French National Center for Scientific Research

Helmholtz Association oF German Research Centers

Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich

nongovernmental organization/nonprofit organization

PERCENTAGES MAY NOT ADD up TO 100 DUE TO ROUNDING.

sources: nature index; R&D magazine; ICEF Monitor