Scotland’s economy ‘lags behind other small countries’

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Scotland’s economy has “lagged behind” that of other advanced small nations, according to a report which put the country bottom of the list for a key performance measure.

Economics expert David Skilling estimated that Scotland’s GDP per capita to be $39,337 (£29,282) in 2017 – slightly lower than that of the UK and below that of 13 other comparator countries.

North Sea oil platform.

North Sea oil platform.

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The slowdown in the oil and gas sector has hit GDP growth in Scotland, the report said, while adding that being in the UK – which has “under-performed the rest of Europe by a significant margin over the past few years” – had also acted as a “drag on performance”.

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The economic adviser looked at the performance of countries including Ireland, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Hong Kong and Switzerland – where GDP per capita was measured at $80,591, more than double the Scottish figure.

Dr David Skilling.

Dr David Skilling.

In a new report for the think-tank Reform Scotland, ­published with the Scottish Policy Foundation, Dr Skilling said: “Scotland’s economic performance has lagged that of other small advanced economies.”

He added: “There is scope to strengthen Scotland’s competitive position using its set of devolved powers through deliberate policy action.”

Looking at successful small economies, the report concluded there was “no single specific policy model” followed by all.

However, it stressed the importance of having a “disciplined approach to fiscal ­policy”, along with an “efficient, competitive business environment that allows for firms to expand”.

GDP growth in Scotland has averaged 1.4 per cent since 2000, the report said, putting the country “near the bottom of the small advanced economies group”.

It stated: “There has been a consistent gap between Scotland’s GDP growth rates and that of other small advanced economies.

“This has led to a steady divergence in Scotland’s per capita income from that of other small advanced economies.”