According to a new study by a nonpartisan research group, the competitive edge of the United States economy has eroded sharply over the last decade, the New York Times reports. The study by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation found that the United States ranked sixth among 40 countries and regions, based on 16 indicators of innovation and competitiveness. These included venture capital investment, scientific researchers, spending on research, and educational achievement. But the American economy placed last in terms of progress made over the last decade. "The trend is very troubling," said Robert D. Atkinson, president of the foundation. Measuring national competitiveness and the capacity for innovation is tricky. Definitions and methods differ, and so do the outcomes. For example, the World Economic Forum’s recent global competitiveness report ranked the United States first, though much of the forum’s report is based on opinion surveys. And a report last year by the Rand Corp. concluded that the United States was in "no imminent danger" of losing its competitive advantage in science and technology. The new report, published on Feb. 25, offers a more pessimistic portrait. Its assessment is in line with a landmark study in late 2005, "Rising Above the Gathering Storm," by the National Academies, the nation’s leading science advisory group. It warned that America’s lead in science and technology was "eroding at a time when many other nations are gathering strength…"

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