Is Scottish branding important on Scottish food

What do the Scots live on?

How good or bad are the Scots really doing? Facts about Scotland's economy that dispel some stereotypes - and corroborate others.

21, 22, 23 ... counted out loud? At each of that number, Scotland has sold 40 bottles of whiskey to the world. 40 bottles per second!

Despite this superlative: Many have a strange picture of Scotland in their heads. From a state that is somewhere close to the economic output of Portugal or Greece. But that's wrong. Modern Scotland, in a much better way, is economically broad and healthy. But of course there are also people here who do not have a job or have to take several jobs in order to make a living.

Scotland has just over five million people. How can you make a statement about states like Germany, which have 80 million people? For comparison, the EU uses the gross domestic product per capita (GDP / capita). And that helps us better understand Scottish performance. The data on exports and unemployment will complete the picture.

Export hit No. 1: Eating and drinking

It goes without saying that the “food and drink” category tops the export hit list. As I said: 40 bottles of whiskey per second! But although whiskey makes up the lion's share of this sector at around 80 percent, it is also worth taking a look at the remaining 20 percent. Scotland also supplies the world with other foodstuffs, such as salmon. It has nothing to do with the impoverished fisherman who goes out with his trawler and casts his nets. The locals have long been running automatic salmon farms that breed, feed and protect the fish. In addition, there is the Highland beef, which many tourists perceive as a landscape decoration, but whose meat is being consumed in more and more kitchens around the world. Cheese, cookies, and chips are other foods that are in great demand around the world.

So you can see: There is more than just whiskey involved here ... “Eating and drinking” is a lucrative industry in which almost every fifth Scot works.

The “chemistry” area then follows in place on the two export charts - this also includes the crude oil refinery (not extraction!). This area is almost on par with "eating and drinking," so there is a healthy industry at work here too. The service sector takes third place. Four and five go to technology and mechanical engineering.

Incidentally, exports are not first made to the EU, but mainly to the USA. Perhaps one reason why we hardly notice these assets in Germany?

Job engine: tourists from all over the world

Of course, a certain dependency of the country on tourism cannot be denied. After all, one in twelve Scots capable of work works in the travel industry or in a profession that has greatly benefited from it. This is made possible by 15 million visitors from home and abroad who leave around 4 billion pounds in the country.

This flow of visitors is no coincidence. The government boosted the development of tourism through targeted measures. More and more sights are being restored, the infrastructure is getting better and better, the advertising abroad is getting stronger and stronger - recently Hollywood has been doing the rest by using Scotland's landscape as a backdrop in films like Harry Potter or Merida.

North Sea Oil: The Scots' Secret Treasure

The hit list of export goods shown above is deceptive because it does not contain an important commodity: the oil from the North Sea. It is not included because it is generated outside of the country. "Offshore" on oil platforms.

What few people know: Scotland is the EU's largest oil producer. Before Norway. This rich treasure from the sea should continue to gush at the same level until 2020.

Just for fun, the Scottish government once bothered to include oil in GDP. The result: Scotland would have the sixth highest gross domestic product per capita worldwide - ahead of Germany, which would then be in 14th place. Whether this calculation is really serious is another matter. The wealth that the oil brings cannot be dismissed out of hand.

EU comparison: Scotland in the middle

None of that says much about how Scotland is now establishing itself in relation to other countries. To the rich and poor in the EU, for example. To estimate the GDP per capita of some countries in comparison.

  • Germany 30,500 euros
  • United Kingdom 27,500 euros
  • Scotland 26,500 euros (Highlands 21,000 euros)
  • Greece 19,600 euros
  • Romania 5,800 euros


But how are the individual regions of Scotland doing? For example, are the Highlands really that poor?

First a surprise: Among the top 20 regions with the highest GDP per capita, the region around Aberdeen ranks 12th, on a par with Upper Bavaria including Munich. From Great Britain only London otherwise makes it into the top 20 - which, however, is in first place. (No wonder. The banking center has hardly any inhabitants, most of them only commute in to work.)

The West Highlands, on the other hand, actually belong to the poor regions of Great Britain - but not to the poorest either, namely West Wales with 17,400 euros GDP / capita. And certainly not among the poorest in Europe. That would be a region in Poland.

GDP is not everything: unemployment in Scotland

Of course, what is generated does not necessarily say how people are in general. A good indicator, on the other hand, is unemployment. Let's take a look.

In Scotland, unemployment is 7.4 percent - for comparison: France has around 10, Germany 5 and Great Britain a total of 7.8 percent. In terms of unemployment statistics, the Highlands are even slightly below the Scottish average.

Here, too, one can say that Scotland is not in an exposed bad position.

Poverty: How is the money distributed in Scotland?

Unemployment seems normal, but can Scots make a living from work? A similar trend can be seen here as in Germany: The net incomes of many Scots are falling and they often have to take on several jobs or would like to work more, but cannot find anything.

I always tried to get the latest numbers. However, many evaluations for 2012 are not yet available. In the time series, however, one can hardly see any major trend reversals, so that a certain degree of comparability should be permissible.

A total of 17 percent of Scots lived in relative poverty in 2010 (Germany just under 16 percent). “Relative” means: measured against the rest of the country this year. It is important to note that the number would decrease, but household costs such as rents and groceries are increasing, thereby preventing poverty from decreasing.

Another point: Child poverty is very high. There are 13 counties in Scotland where 30 percent of adolescents live below the poverty line. These areas are mainly grouped around Glasgow, Edinburgh and Dundee.

On average across Scotland it is 20 percent of children who live in households that earn less than 60 percent of the average income - that is, who are poor. In Germany in 2011 it was around 17 percent if you only calculate it on household incomes (the federal government reduced poverty through social benefits to 10 percent, unfortunately I do not have this figure for Scotland).

The good news: The number of poor children in Scotland (also in Germany) has been falling for years. The bad news: Far too little and far too slow.

The gap between rich and poor is wide in Scotland. Although: In 2011 in particular, this difference narrowed. Not because the poor were better off, but because the rich were worse off. In order to be able to assess this, one compares the GINI coefficient across the EU. The smaller it is, the more equitably the country's wealth is distributed - with one, all households would have the same amount of money, with 100 all would be money in one household.

A comparison of some of the GINIs from 2011:

  • Bulgaria 35.1
  • United Kingdom (including Scotland) 33
  • European Union (27 countries on average) 30.7
  • Scotland 30
  • Germany 29
  • Norway 22.9

Again, it shows that there is a lot to do in Scotland, but compared to Europe it occupies an average position.

Conclusion: Scotland is a good average

Whiskey, oil, salmon, tourism are extremely important, but there are also plenty of other, healthy industries that mainly export to the USA.

When it comes to poverty and unemployment, Scotland ranks well in the middle when you look at the EU and usually better than the rest of the UK.

So Scotland does not belong in the poor house of Europe, on the contrary, it belongs to the rich economies. But within Scotland - as in Germany - there is often great poverty.