112. Science is not an expense, it is an investment. And a smart one.
The coronavirus crisis has highlighted the role and importance of science in society, bringing it into the public consciousness, sharing some space in the public imagination. This presents an opportunity for countries to increase their public investment in fundamental science and in Research and Development, which often suffers badly during recessions, fluctuating between 3% of GDP and nothing, depending on the country. The problem is that society perceives science as expense and not investment, because we look at it with a short term eye, the eye we use for climate impact, sustainability, etc. But it is not. Scientific developments create high quality companies and high quality jobs, and therefore, short term economic returns for the public purse in the form of taxes. But today we don’t account for this, we don’t know, as an economy, the direct short term returns of investment in science and, whilst we don’t, we’ll continue to perceive it as an expense, and to cut it when trouble hits
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