Nicola Sturgeon has told World Bank chiefs that the gulf between rich and poor is damaging long-term growth for nations, in a keynote speech in Washington.
The First Minister is on the third day of a trip to the US and also held talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and US Government chiefs in the country’s capital.
The First Minister said in her World bank speech that Scotland has “deep inequalities” which affects the education of those in poorer areas and their health.
And as Scotland drives for improved growth, she insisted this must “benefit more people.”
“What we increasingly recognise is that those two challenges – of competitiveness and equality – aren’t separate issues.
“They are connected. We would have an even more competitive economy, if we had a fairer society.”
The OECD recently estimated that rising income inequality in the UK reduced economic growth 9 per cent between 1990 and 2010, the First Minister added. IMF research over the past 50 years has shown that more unequal countries tend to have lower and less durable growth.
“Inequalities of income and opportunity undermine growth prospects in the longer term,” Ms Sturgeon added.
“Countries become more competitive if they make use of the talents of all of their people.”
Ms Sturgeon said the model Scotland is attempting to follow mirrors the system of “Rhine capitalism” developed in the 70 years since World War II which combined competitive markets with “strong social protections.”
She added: “What we’re aiming to create in Scotland is in some ways similar.
“We’re investing in the innovation and infrastructure which is essential to future productivity growth. But as part of that, we’re also creating an inclusive society – one which harnesses the talents of all of our people, and which shares the benefits of growth more equally.”