More than half of Americans queried in a recent national poll doubt that the United States will be considered the world leader in health care by 2020, and nearly 60% believe that a country other than the United States will lead the world in science and technology by that time. Results from a poll, conducted by JZ Analytics on behalf of the health-research organization Research!America, were released this afternoon at the organization's annual health research forum in Washington, D.C.
Of the 1005 likely voters polled, 47% said they thought the United States would lead the world in health care by 2020—though the poll did not define which factors would play into that designation. More than a quarter of respondents said they weren't sure which nation would hold that title in 8 years, while 18% speculated that it would be the European Union. The rest of the responses split among China, India, and Brazil. Only 42% said they thought the United States would retain its position as the world leader in science and technology by 2020, while 26% predicted China would assume that mantle, and 7% chose India.
At a panel discussion at the conference, a number of scientists and science policymakers said these poll figures reveal a startling degree of public skepticism toward the United States's ability to compete globally in scientific research. They blamed the public's perception of the United States as a dwindling science powerhouse on a lack of long-term thinking by lawmakers tasked with funding national science endeavors. While China and the European Union have taken steps to increase their research budgets, the United States more recently has struggled to keep its research budget from declining, said National Institutes of Health Director Francis S. Collins.