The NIH budget never actually doubled
February 4, 2013
I pointed out some time ago that inflation “UnDoubled” the NIH budget rapidly in the wake of sustained Bush-era (now Obama-era) flatline budgets for the NIH. Nothing like a graph to make a point so I’ll repost it.
Figure 1. NIH Appropriations (Adjusted for Inflation in Biomedical Research) from 1965 through 2007, the President’s Request for 2008, and Projected Historical Trends through 2010.
All values have been adjusted according to the Biomedical Research and Development Price Index on the basis of a standard set of relevant goods and services (with 1998 as the base year).* The trend line indicates average real annual growth between fiscal years 1971 and 1998 (3.34%), with projected growth (dashed line) at the same rate. The red square indicates the president’s proposed NIH budget for fiscal year 2008, also adjusted for inflation in biomedical research.
Now, what I ran across today at Ethan Perlstein’s post on Postdocalypse now (go read) was this graph which makes the same point in a slightly different way. I like it. He didn’t link the source so I’m not certain of the inflation adjustment used…probably not the above BRDPI, I would think. But still…makes the point doesn’t it? At best the NIH purchasing power went up by 50%. It was never actually “doubled”.
The Science column links to a study by Paula Stephan, an economist at Georgia State University (PDF of PowerPoint slides) that puts some numbers on exactly how the doubling affected young scientists.