An increasing number of researchers have recently shown interest in the relationship between economic growth of a country and its research output, measured in scientometric indicators. The answer is not only of theoretical interest but it can also influence the specific policies aimed at the improvement of a country’s research performance. Our paper focuses on this relationship. We argue that research output is a manifestation of the improvement of human capital in the economy. We examine this relationship specifically in South Africa for the period 1980-2008.
Using the autoregressive distributed lag (ARDL) method, we investigate the relationship between GDP and the comparative research performance of the country in relation to the rest of the world (the share of South Africa papers compared to the rest of the world). The relationship is confirmed for individual fields of sciences (biology and biochemistry, chemistry, material sciences, physics, psychiatry and psychology).
The results of this study indicate that in South Africa for the period 1980-2008 the comparative performance of the research output can be considered as a factor affecting the economic growth of the country. Similarly, the results confirm the results of Vinker (2008) and Lee et al. (2001). In contrast, economic growth did not influence the research output of the country for the same period. Policy implications are also discussed.