Trends in Science and Mathematics Education and Research and Development Capabilities in Japan

Author Name NISHIMURA Kazuo (Faculty Fellow, RIETI) / MIYAMOTO Dai (Doshisha University) / YAGI Tadashi (Doshisha University)
Creation Date/NO. August 2021 21-J-039
Research Project Fundamental Research for Economic Growth and Productivity Improvement in Japan
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Since the beginning of the 2000s, the White Paper on Science and Technology by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) and other sources have pointed out that Japan's R&D capabilities have been declining. The number of publications and patent indexes in the natural sciences have been falling behind the world leaders since the 2010s, and the decline in Japan's R&D capabilities is not a temporary phenomenon. The causes of this decline may vary, but there is no disputing that the impact of science and mathematics education on the quality of science researchers has been one of the most important factors.

In this study, by utilizing data from two surveys conducted in 2016 and 2020, we examined whether or not the changes in the number of hours of science and mathematics classes over the past 50 years have had an impact on R&D activities of those researchers. Specifically, we analyzed the relationship between the number of class hours for science and mathematics of students in junior high school, which changed every 10 years, and the R&D output of those students after becoming R&D engineers, such as the number of patent applications, the number of patent renewals, the number of presentations at academic conferences, and the number of papers published in academic journals. Comparing the results of the previous survey with those of the current survey, we found that there was a change in the number of patents between generations that could not be explained by differences in age, and that this change was correlated with the number of hours spent in science and mathematics classes in junior high school.