The smaller and more specialized the scientific field being studied, the less predictable are changes in the factors that affect demand, such as scientific and technological advances, shifts in Federal funding priorities, and industrial research and development (R&D) spending. Small changes in the total supply of scientists and engineers can mask significant adjustment within and among fields. The total number of Ph.D.s awarded in science and engineering rose by 7 percent between 1980 and 1985. During this period, physics Ph.D. awards rose 10 percent and mathematics Ph.D.s declined almost as much. Both were overshadowed, however, by an increase in computer science Ph.D.s of 35 percent. The relationship between fields, especially mathematics and computer science, is critical for interpreting these degree trends.

Demographic trends play very little, if any, role in the supply of scientists or engineers in individual fields or in one field relative to another. Some demand factors affect...

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