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To provide a database of statistics on industrial research and development, and support research on the issues of productivity, profitability, and uses of industrial research and development. The United States Code, Title 13, authorizes this data program. The National Science Foundation partially funds the program and related research.


The research and development (R&D) activities of companies included in annual surveys of industrial R&D for the years 1972 through 1993. Major R&D industries include the chemicals, computers, machine tool, transportation, instruments and selected business service (e.g., software development) industries. The database includes some 1,400 companies that each spent more than $1 million for R&D and an equal number of firms that spent less.


The database includes information on R&D spending and company characteristics, and data collected under both mandatory and voluntary survey response conditions. Mandatory data include total R&D, federal versus company financed R&D, domestic net sales, and domestic employment. Voluntary data are more detailed, collected primarily in odd-numbered years, and include the distribution of basic research by field of science; the distribution of applied research by product field; the distribution of total R&D by state; the distribution of Federal R&D by defense, space and energy agency; pollution abatement and energy-related R&D; and R&D performed for companies outside the U.S. Additional voluntary data include the life cycle of the R&D projects, and process versus product R&D, collected in the 1980's.


The underlying survey data have been collected annually on a calendar year basis since 1957; however, only data from 1972 forward is available on the database. The R&D database is generally updated annually within 2 years after the survey reference year.


An annual compilation of data from the varied panel survey of industrial R&D; 13,500 firms are included in the first year panel, and the largest of those that report R&D activity (about 1,700 firms) are eligible for succeeding annual panels; annual estimates are made for the 1,300 smaller firms that report R&D activity. The survey uses a multi-phase sample selection process. Firms in very low-R&D industries or with employment below a cutoff size (which varies by industry) are eliminated. Then the first year panel is selected; all firms with at least 500 employees or that are known to conduct research are selected with certainty, and other firms are selected with probability proportional to employment size (a proxy for estimated R&D expenditures).

Large firms report limited data items each year and detailed data items for odd-numbered years since 1977 (and each year from 1972 through 1976). Smaller firms report only selected data for the first year of a new survey panel; survey data for other years are imputed (with markers in the R&D database). The database includes information for about 3000 firms per year from 1974 through 1991, and about 2,300 firms for years 1972 and 1973.

The R&D database is a set of cross sections of the annual survey, rather than a balanced panel. Thus, firms come and go between years in the database depending on their size and composition of the survey sample. R&D database information is confidential and all research is conducted by permanent and specially sworn Census Bureau employees. All current research is done at the Center for Economic Studies (CES) in Suitland, Maryland, or at the Boston Research Data Center (additional locations are under consideration).


The CES Discussion Paper series began in 1988, and periodically presents working papers based on R&D research. Current titles include Using linked Census R&D- LRD Data to Analyze the Effect of R&D Investment on Total Factor Productivity Growth, and Academic Science, Industrial R&D, and Growth of Inputs." The database is described in the title, A Guide to R&D at the Center for Economic Studies." Most papers are revised and submitted for journal or commercial publications.

Special tabulations of aggregated data from the R&D database are prepared in response to specific requests on a reimbursable basis.


The National Science Foundation has sponsored research to measure and assess the diverse effects of industrial R&D. Planned research will explore the lagged and concurrent relationships between university-sponsored R&D, firm- sponsored R&D, and firm productivity.


Provides data on the amount and kind of spending for R&D by industrial firms in the U.S. and trends in industrial R&D spending since 1972.


o Survey of Industrial Research and Development

o Longitudinal Research Database




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