Scotland's improving economic performance: a long-term comparative study

John McLaren, Brian Ashcroft (Editor)

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There has been much comment of late to the effect that Scotland's historical growth rate has been poor, relative to both the UK and to other countries. This paper takes a contrary view. Firstly, based on figures for Gross Domestic Output (GDP) per capita, acting as a proxy for the rise in the standard of living, it argues that Scotland's long-term growth rate is very similar to that of the UK. Secondly, using the same measure, when Scotland's performance is compared internationally, it is shown to have improved over the last three decades relative to other developed economies. Thirdly, it is shown that much of the worsening seen in Scotland's performance, relative to the UK, since the mid-90's can be attributed in large part to methodological inconsistencies in the collection of data for Health and Social Work services. The paper concludes by considering some of the ways that a better understanding of the relative performance of the Scottish economy might be achieved and warns of the potential dangers of reinforcing a negative view of the Scottish economy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)42-48
Number of pages7
JournalQuarterly Economic Commentary
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2003


  • Scottish economy
  • Scottish economic performance
  • Scottish gross domestic product (GDP)


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