Russia needs to take urgent action to prepare for the replacement of scientists who are approaching the end of their careers, a report by the United Nations Development Programme warns.
A sharp drop in the number of young people willing to pursue science and teaching careers could threaten the country's booming economy, the Human Development Report: Russian Federation 2004 states.
The report says: "Underfunding of science could slow down economic growth, making it impossible to ensure the country's security, thus posing a threat to both Russia and global stability."
The number of Russians employed in research and development dropped from 1.53 million to 870,000 between 1992 and 2002. Nearly half of all researchers, 61 per cent of PhD holders and 84 per cent of the most qualified science workers are over 50.
Of those students who completed postgraduate studies in 2002, less than 18 per cent plan to become researchers, threatening the continuity of Russian science and research.