outputs. While there has been attention paid to the lengthening time to the doctorate and the increased age at which scientists win their first grants, it appears that this is a particularly critical question for creative life spans. Earlier NRC studies discussed issues in this area, and the present committee would note two measures that are particularly important. First, it is important to ensure that young researchers have access to federal grants. This will be especially critical in an environment in which the federal budget is constrained and federal funds for science and engineering are likely to be under severe pressure. Additionally, it is important to ensure that the time to degree for young researchers be kept at the minimum so that they can progress to productive and independent scientific careers. This emphasizes the need for strong support for doctoral and postdoctoral scientists and engineers as well as measures that shorten the time during which young people are dependent on older researchers for support.
An important area for innovational structure is retirement policy. Fiscal concerns suggest that the country should support measures that encourage people to work longer. This is particularly true of incentives to retire early that have been discussed in Chapter 5 and elsewhere in this report. However, the committee would issue cautions about the potential squeeze on young scientists in a period in which universities and other institutions of innovation are under pressure. There has been aging in our innovational institutions over recent years, and this is of concern for a sector where the most innovative work is done early in the life cycle, as seen above. Attention to the needs of young scientists will help advance the early stages of scientific careers. Innovational institutions should pay increased attention to the need to ensure that there is ample room for young scientists and scholars in their ranks.
Finally, some federal spending and tax structures are more likely to promote innovation than others. Programs to support education, science programs, and scholarships for college and postgraduate students are better at creating an innovative society than many existing federal programs. It is important that fiscal decisions in a constrained budget environment be mindful of the impact of policies on innovation and adaptiveness.