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FIGURE 2-1 Incidence of selected diseases in the United States throughout the 20th century. The 20th century saw dramatic reductions in disease incidence in the United States.

NOTES: Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) rate is per 100,000 live births. AIDS definition was substantially expanded in 1985, 1987, and 1993. TB rate prior to 1930 is estimated as 1.3 times the mortality rate.

SOURCES: S. Moore, J. L. Simon, and the CATO Institute. “The Greatest Century That Ever Was: 25 Miraculous Trends of the Past 100 Years.” Policy Analysis No. 364, December 15, 1999. Pp. 1-32. Based on Historical Statistic of the United States, Series B 149, B 291, B 299-300, B 303; Health, United States, 1999, Table 53; and American SIDS Institute. Available at:

enterprise mostly hidden from public view—fundamental and applied research, an intensively trained workforce, and a national infrastructure that provides risk capital to support the nation’s science and engineering innovation enterprise. All that activity, and its sustaining public support, fuels the steady flow of knowledge and provides the mechanism for converting information into the products and services that create jobs and improve the quality of modern life. Maintaining that vast and complex enterprise during an age of competition and globalization is challenging, but it is essential to the future of the United States.


Knowledge acquired and applied by scientists and engineers provides the tools and systems that characterize modern culture and the raw materials

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