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Data source: Federal Statistical Office

Geographical Area: Germany

This table includes additional information to the above visualized indicators, i.e. a short definition of this indicator and a description of the politically determined target values as well as explaining the political intention behind selecting this indicator.


This indicator shows expenditure on research and development by the private sector, the state and institutions of higher education in relation to gross domestic product.

Target and intention

Expenditure on research and development (R&D) is a crucial parameter, albeit not the sole determining factor, in setting the pace of innovation of an economy. The higher the spending, the greater the likelihood of more dynamic gains in productivity, stronger economic growth and improved competitiveness. The German Government will leave no stone unturned in pursuit of its policy objective to raise private and public R&D spending – an important determinant of the pace of an economy’s innovation – to at least 3.5% of GDP annually by 2025.

Data status

The data published in the indicator report 2022 is as of Oct 31 2022. The data shown on this platform is updated regularly, so that more current data may be available online than published in the indicator report 2022.

Text from the Indicator Report 2021 

Research and development are scientific activities and are defined as creative and systematic work with the goal of expanding knowledge – including knowledge of humankind, culture and society – as well as developing new applications on the basis of existing knowledge. The main criterion that differentiates R&D from related activities is the existence of an appreciable element of novelty or advancement from a previous position.

The Federal Statistical Office annually calculates how much has been spent on research and development as a proportion of gross domestic product. Overall spending on research and development comprises expenditure by the public sector (including private non-profit research institutions), businesses and institutions of higher education. The data-gathering and calculations adhere to the recommended methodologies of the OECD Frascati Manual on statistics about research and development, which enables international comparisons.

Overall R&D expenditure in Germany in 2018 amounted to EUR 104.7 billion, equivalent to 3.1% of GDP. It was thus 0.4 percentage points below the target set for 2025 of at least 3.5% of GDP annually. The intended target has not been reached.

Since 2000, spending on research and development in Germany has risen by about 0.7 percentage points as a proportion of GDP. The indicator has shown the strongest growth since 2007. While the figure increased by an average of 0.01 percentage points per annum between 2000 and 2007, it grew by an annual 0.06 percentage points on average from 2007 until 2018.

As an international comparison, Germany is ahead of the United States with its 2.8% and the EU-28 region with its 2.0%. On the other hand, several countries are ahead of Germany, including Sweden and Japan (both at 3.3%).

In 2018, the private sector accounted for by far the largest share of R&D expenditure in Germany at 68.9%, with 17.6% spent by institutions of higher education and a further 13.5% by public and private non-profit research institutions. Staff employed in R&D comprised around 708,000 full-time equivalents, a figure that includes only the share of their working hours actually spent on R&D work. Some 63.7% of these employees work in the private sector, 20.8% in institutions of higher education and 15.5% in public or private non-profit research institutions.

The synoptic table provides information about the evaluation of the indicator in previous years. It shows if the weather symbol assigned to an indicator was rather stable or volatile in the past years. (Evaluation of the indicator report 2022)


9.1.a Private and public expenditure on research and development


At least 3.5% of GDP per year by 2025






Evaluation <p>Wolke</p>