Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said the U.S. government should fund research and development to boost economic growth while also supporting science through education and immigration policies.
“In the abstract, economists have identified some persuasive justifications for government policies to promote R&D activities, especially those related to basic research,” Bernanke said today in a speech in Washington. At the same time, “in a time of fiscal stringency, the Congress and the Administration will clearly need to carefully weigh competing priorities in their budgetary decisions,” he said.
Bernanke didn’t comment on the outlook for the economy or monetary policy in the speech. U.S. growth slowed to a 1.8 percent annual pace in the first quarter from 3.1 percent in the three months through December. Some economists have found that expanded government support for research and development could “significantly boost economic growth” over time, he said.
“We should also keep in mind that funding R&D activity is only part of what the government can do to foster innovation,” Bernanke said in prepared remarks at a conference at Georgetown University. “Ensuring a sufficient supply of individuals with science and engineering skills is important for promoting innovation, and this need raises questions about education policy as well as immigration policy.”
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