America’s reinvention is helping it leap further ahead of the world

America’s reinvention is helping it leap further ahead of the world

Pessimists believe that the United States has peaked as a superpower and is falling behind in education, research and development, and economic growth. They say the country’s best days are behind it.

Fortunately, they are wrong. Not only is the United States leading a technology revolution that will help solve the grand challenges of humanity — problems such as disease, hunger and shortages of energy and clean water — it is increasing its lead on the rest of the world. By combining its entrepreneurial strengths with its creativity, it is reinventing itself once again.

A new report from the Council on Foreign Relations, Keeping the Edge, is one in a series that analyzes where the United States stands in key dimensions of economic competitiveness. It concludes that on innovation, which drives rising living standards in the advanced economies, no other country is even close. For example:

–Of the top 20 universities in the world that produce the highest-impact scientific research, 16 are in the United States.

–Total U.S. research & development spending — most of it by companies — is higher as a share of the economy than at any other time since the early 1960s when the space program was starting. In absolute terms, no other country invests nearly as much in R&D as the United States, and in relative terms only Japan is close. And in a recent survey, the average U.S. corporation said it planned to boost research spending this year by nearly twice the rate of its international competitors.

–The share of the U.S. economy that comes from knowledge-intensive industries has risen sharply over the past decade, reaching nearly 40 percent; no other large economy has even hit 30 percent.

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