The 2009 RS&T scorecard is now available here. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to obtain a pre-release copy from MoRST so I have not had time to fully digest it.
However, I will draw your attention to the interesting plot on page 4 which charts the number of patents per billion dollars GDP (2009 PPP). This measure presumably says something about the R&D intensity of economies. I find it extremely interesting that the scaled data for New Zealand and Australia are so similar.
Readers will recall that in a previous post I observed how the patent gap between New Zealand and Australia seems to be related to the differences sizes of our cities. Does this then mean that the GDP gap between the two countries is also related to the differences in city size? I suspect so, and sure enough there do seem to be some economists (such as Phil McCann now at the University of Groningen) who have similar suspicions.
As a country we have little control over many of the circumstances that dictate our economic geography. So is it actually possible for us to close this GDP gap with Australia? Lowering tax rates doesn’t seem to me to be the answer — what do we do when Australia lowers their rates? Instead, along with many others, I think we need to move from a commodity-driven to an innovation-led economy, something that may in fact be more easily accomplished in a smaller country, and something that the Scandinavian countries have managed. Can we follow suit?