Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte wrote that “the advancement and perfection of mathematics are intimately connected with the prosperity of the state”. His vision shaped modern France, and his countrymen reap the benefits to this day.
Holder of a remarkable mathematical community, distinguished with 14 (that is, 22%) of the 64 Fields medals already awarded, France competes with the United States for primacy in the world research scenario.
How much of this results in “prosperity of the state” is what the French government aims to answer with the “Study of the economic impact of mathematics in France”, which has just been published. The document has a preface by the minister of economy, finance and industrial and digital sovereignty. Happy is the nation whose minister of economy knows that scientific research is a matter of national sovereignty.
A similar study published in 2015 showed that economic activities linked to mathematics have a surprisingly large weight in the French economy. In fact, this conclusion was corroborated by equivalent analyzes carried out in the past decade in other countries, such as the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Australia and Spain.
The findings of the 2022 study are even more impactful. The contribution of mathematics to the GDP (domestic product) of France, which was 16%, rose to 18%: 281 billion euros, around R$ 1.5 trillion, generated each year by jobs with a strong component of mathematics. . The number of these jobs has also increased: there are 3.3 million, 14% more than ten years ago, in sectors such as information technology, scientific research and development, energy production and distribution and telecommunications — and it tends to grow more and more.
“Collaborations in mathematics between the academic world and companies are numerous, but insufficiently developed, despite the growing needs”, emphasize the authors, adding that companies are not always aware of the mathematical instruments they can mobilize for their purposes.
But the study also points out weaknesses in the education system that can jeopardize the sustainability of the system. These are critical lessons for Brazil, a country that belongs to the International Mathematical Union’s elite group in research, but is still in its infancy in transforming this potential into prosperity. What is at stake is not small: 18% of Brazilian GDP exceeds R$ 1.5 trillion per year…