Support Social Science Research at the NSF

China now spends more on basic research than the United States and it should be a national priority to reverse this trend and support social, behavioral and economic research.

The House Science Committee, under the leadership of Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX), will soon introduce a bill to reauthorize programs at the National Science Foundation. The Frontiers in Research, Science, and Technology (FIRST) bill may include reductions in authorized funding levels for National Science Foundation?s Directorate for Social, Behavioral & Economic Sciences.

I urge you to fully fund the NSF and the Social, Behavioral and Economic (SBE) Science Directorate, and oppose any effort to place new restrictions on SBE science research funding. Previous research funded by the SBE Directorate includes the works of Nobel Prize winning researchers (the late Elinor Ostrom of Indiana University as well as Daniel Kahneman of Princeton) that examines individual and group decision making. Other work includes research on cyber-security, disasters, solving border disputes between countries, and how foreign aid shocks can result in violent conflict. As then Representative Flake (R-AZ) once noted ?the work of political scientists advances the knowledge and understanding of citizenship and government, politics, and this shouldn't be minimized.?

It is important that the United States sees funding across all disciplines of basic scientific research supported by the NSF as a top national priority. Support for this goal should not include offsets that will force significant, detrimental tradeoffs between one field of research and another. We need to preserve our system of support for basic research based on scientific merit and peer review, without unneeded restriction and regulation.