Since World War II, the United States has been the main driver of the global STEM economy, but a new study warns that this is no longer the case.
China has replaced the United States as the leader in what the study, conducted by researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology, calls Technological Standing, or an output factor that indicates each nation's recent success in exporting high tech products.
"China has really changed the world economic landscape in technology," said Alan Porter, another study co-author and co-director of the Georgia Tech Technology Policy and Assessment Center, which conducted the research. "When you take China's low-cost manufacturing and focus on technology, then combine them with the increasing emphasis on research and development, the result ultimately won't leave much room for other countries."
China should not just be viewed as a low-cost producer of manufactured goods, but a global tech powerhouse, finds the researchers, moving in the last 15 years from being "in the weeds" to a world leader.
The "High Tech Indicators" study ranks 33 nations relative to one another in technological standing, based on national orientation in technological competitiveness, socioeconomic infrastructure, technological infrastructure and productive capacity. China had a standing of 82.8 in 2007, compared to a U.S. standing of 76.1 and 66.0 for Japan. China's score was only 22.5 11 years ago, while the United States peaked in 1999 with a score of 95.4.
This isn't the only recent study which waved a red warning flag about the United States' STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) competitiveness: the annual PISA (Program for International Student Assessment) report results found in December that the average combined science literacy scale score for U.S. students fell to 25th place in math and to 21st place in science.