Exploring key economic sectors and groups of sectors in Scotland; 1998, 2004, 2007

Stuart McIntyre, J. Kim Swales

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Different methods and criteria exist for determining ‘key’ economic sectors. The Scottish Government identifies a number of ‘key’ sectors, although it is not clear which metrics it used to choose these. It is likely that these sectors are considered to be ‘key’ in delivering the Scottish Government’s policy priorities. This differs from a more formally defined economic approach to determining key sectors. However, even within the economics literature, there are different ways of thinking about which sectors are ‘key’.

This short paper presents one approach to determining individual and groups of ‘key’ sectors. We will explain why these approaches are not necessarily equivalent, and what value is added in moving from considering sectors individually to analysing the impact of sectors in groups. We begin with a non-technical overview of the methods we employ, before discussing the database used in this analysis. We then present the results of applying this method for Scotland for three time periods: 1998, 2004, and 2007. We mainly focus on sectoral output, but we also include one set of results which look at key employment sectors.

In the discussion of our results we concentrate on two things. First, we are interested in which sectors are identified as important in Scotland in each time period. Second, we investigate how those sectors have changed between 1998, 2004 and 2007.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)49-62
Number of pages14
JournalFraser of Allander Economic Commentary
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2012


  • key economic sectors
  • groups of sectors
  • scotland
  • 1998
  • 2004
  • 2007
  • impact of sectors
  • employment sectors


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