The technological dominance of the United States may soon go the way of the dollar. Our statistical snapshot shows that government spending on pure research—the kind of investment that pays off big, but only after decades—is in decline. Our schools educate the world, but students increasingly return home with their advanced degrees. Most discouraging, the U.S. now imports more high-tech goods than it exports.
The next president will have to decide whether to reverse declining federal outlays for R&D, and what kinds of research to prioritize. He will also have to figure out the best way to keep educated immigrants in the country. The annual number of H-B1 visas (reserved for students who graduate with a master’s degree or above) is capped at 20,000. The U.S. received 31,000 applications the first week they became available this April.