Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Growing, Growing, Growing....

New figures coming out of the US economy confirms that in almost every respect it is doing significantly better than expected.

It is impressive:

"The upward revision in productivity reflected the fact that the government last week revised upward overall economic growth for the third quarter to an annual rate of 4.3 percent. It had originally estimated that the gross domestic product was growing at a 3.8 percent rate in the third quarter."

I'm in Brussels speaking at an event focusing on issues of research and innovation in Europe. And my message here is that even though we have fallen seriously behind the US during the last decade, there are measures that can and must be taken in order to improve the situation.

Close to 40 % of the scientist and engineers in the United States that have a doctorate degree are born abroad. The ability of America to attract the best and the brightest from abroad has been one of its key sources of strength.

A significant part of the explanation for this is the superior funding over there. On the average, costs for a student in tertiary education is 2-3 times higher there, reflecting better funding for the universities, making them more able to compete in the global marketplace for talent.

There is no reason why we should not be able to do the same in europe. The sums involved are not vast - but the returns are likely to be.

And we do have advantages that should not be neglected.

Europe now draws on a significantly larger "domestic" talent pool than the United States, particularly after the enlargement of the European Union.

And standards of basic education are generally better than in the United States. In the new member states, and East of them, one very often find impressive standards in terms of basic science, engineering and mathematics.

So the conditions are clearly there.

With the right policies and the right funding we would both be able to use our larger and richer talent pool and be better able to attract the best and the brightest from around the world.

Over time, there is little doubt that this would translate into a more globally competitive knowledge economy in Europe.

And then we could see the European economy starting to grow at the least as impressively as the American one is doing at the present.

Productivity Expands at a Faster Pace