Many governments invest in science and technology. They do this to strengthen their military, make their private sector more competitive, improve health care, and improve their capacity to manage the natural world around them (weather forecasts for example). In the U.S.A., federal research and development spending was 5% of discretionary spending or 0.76% of GDP in 2013. Government spending as a share of GDP in other countries that same year was 0.99% in South Korea, 0.83% in Germany, 0.60% in Japan, and 0.44% in China.
Photo: Ben Listerman, Missile Defense Agency.
Excerpted from What Should Governments Do for Us?
 Data are from UNESCO, Gross domestic expenditure on R&D (GERD) and GERD by source of funds.