If Young Scientists Are Best, Then Japan May Have An Edge

If you go along with the theory that the scientific mind functions best when it’s young, the West is head big for trouble—and Japan is in great shape. That’s the conclusion a youthcultist might draw from a recent National Science Foundation comparison of industrial and govern- ment scientists’ age distribution patterns in five countries France, Japan, United Kingdom, United States, and West Germany. When plotted on a curve, Japan’s population of scientists and e

Susan Milius
Oct 2, 1988

If you go along with the theory that the scientific mind functions best when it’s young, the West is head big for trouble—and Japan is in great shape.

That’s the conclusion a youthcultist might draw from a recent National Science Foundation comparison of industrial and govern- ment scientists’ age distribution patterns in five countries France, Japan, United Kingdom, United States, and West Germany. When plotted on a curve, Japan’s population of scientists and engineers bulges dramatically at a younger age than the population of scientists in the US., France, and West Germany, according to NSF figures. For example, in Japan 48% of scientists and engineers sur- veyed were under the age of 35, while only 7% were over 55. To the contrary, 28% of US. scientists were under 35, while 19% were over 55.

The agency’s numbers represent a distillation of census figures taken in the early 190s. the most...

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