BOX 4-1
Improving Data Systems for Decision Making

Specific steps for improving data systems for the US S&E workforce are described in a recent report.a The following high priority needs are relevant to international S&E flows:

  • Current job-market supply and demand conditions—numbers of students by discipline, degree program, career stage, and citizenship status; and job offers, acceptances, and salaries.

  • Private-industry data—industry now hires almost 40 percent of US S&E doctoral graduates.

  • How domestic students make critical decisions—what they know and value in considering S&E careers during key decision periods.

  • Global workforce—numbers and characteristics of foreign S&E students and workers, including those who earned doctorates overseas, by discipline. Why do they choose to study in the United States? What factors influence their decision to stay?

  • Data on S&E jobs that US employers have outsourced abroad—what foreign born graduates of US universities do when they leave the United States, and whether those activities are helpful or harmful to US S&E.


Terrence Kelly, William P. Butz, Stephan Carroll, David M Adamson, and Gabrielle Bloom, Eds. 2004. The U.S. Scientific and Technical Workforce: Improving Data for Decisionmaking. Arlington, VA: RAND Corporation. Available at

The need to improve data on immigration and emigration has been known for at least 20 years.3 As the flow of scientists and engineers into and out of the United States increased during the 1990s, studies reiterated and expanded on this urgent need.4

An understanding of workforce trends is impossible without more frequent counts and timely publication of scientist and engineer populations and of the places in which they have been trained. For example, data on the S&E workforce from the Bureau of Labor Statistics establishment surveys


National Research Council. 1985. Immigration Statistics: A Story of Neglect. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.


National Research Council. 1996. Statistics on U.S. Immigration: An Assessment of Data Needs for Future Research. Washington, DC: National Academy Press; National Research Council. 1999. Measuring the Science and Engineering Enterprise: Priorities for the Division of Science Resources Studies. Washington, DC: National Academy Press. This study focused on the Science Resource Statistics division of the National Science Foundation and urged sufficient funding to “continue and expand significantly its data collection and analysis.”

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