Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Bernanke Calls for More Government-Funded Research

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke called for an uptick in federal funding of high-priority scientific research in an address Monday morning.

His remarks, delivered to a packed Lohrfink Auditorium, kicked off a two-day conference titled, “New Building Blocks for Jobs and Economic Growth,” which was sponsored by the Georgetown Center for Business and Public Policy, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the Athena Alliance, The Conference Board, the Kauffman Foundation and United States National Academies.

The conference addressed the government’s role in research and development and supporting American innovation.

“The tendency of the market to supply too little of certain types of research and development provides a rationale for government action,” Bernanke said.

His remarks set the tone for the conference’s panel discussions on topics like job creation, economic development and the future of American competitiveness.

Bernanke said that government support tools such as direct funding to research centers, grants to universities and individuals, contracts for specific studies and tax credits should be tailored to the projects they are supporting to obtain the best results.

Since the 1980s, the level of public spending on this type of research in the United States has fallen in comparison to the private sector’s efforts. More money has also flowed to applied research than to basic research.

Bernanke cautioned against neglecting the latter, as this results in an environment that lacks basic catalysts for change.

“The Internet revolution of the 1990s was based on scientific investments made in the 1970s and 1980s, and today’s widespread commercialization of biotechnology was based in part on key research findings developed in the 1950s,” he said. “Governments that choose to provide support for [research and development] are likely to get better results if that support is stable and long-term oriented, avoiding a pattern of ‘feast and famine.'”

According to Bernanke, the impressive impacts of innovation on economic growth and the many successes of government funding in research and development justify a call for increased spending in this area.

“Studies suggest that technological progress and the accumulation of intangible capital have together accounted for well over half of the increase in output per hour in the United States during the past several decades,” he said.

Bernanke also focused on the ever-increasing need for highly skilled, highly educated workers in today’s research-driven economy, advocating for greater government support for students pursuing science and engineering degrees.

The Fed chairman also addressed the effects of globalization on innovation.

According to Bernanke, the United States has been the global leader in innovation in research for much of the last century and, despite rising research and development spending by nations such as China and India, he sees American dominance in the field continuing.

At the same time, Bernanke emphasized the cooperative nature of research.

“In a globalized economy, product and process innovations in one country can lead to employment opportunities and improved goods and services around the world,” he said.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All The Hoya Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *