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by Liam Kirkaldy
15 July 2015
GDP not a good measure of wellbeing, says Scottish Environment LINK

GDP not a good measure of wellbeing, says Scottish Environment LINK

Figures showing the Scottish economy grew by 0.6 per cent in the last quarter do not accurately reflect the reality of people’s lives, according to Scottish Environment LINK.

Reacting to the latest economic figures, which also show unemployment has fallen by 0.5 per cent, the environmental umbrella group warned that although GDP has risen, the quality of Scotland’s environment continues to suffer.

Lloyd Austin, Head of Conservation Policy for RSPB Scotland and a member of LINK’s economics taskforce, said: “Economic activity, measured solely by GDP, is a poor proxy for the type of activity that supports employment, income and an improving quality of life.

Austin continued: “GDP growth can be positive because of accidents, poor health, environmental degradation – and does not take account of inequality or social justice.  It is therefore a poor measure of the country’s ‘success’ if it fails to measure over exploitation of our environment, our contributions to climate change, reduction in biodiversity and reduced fish stocks.”

ONS Labour Market Statistics demonstrate Scotland’s overall unemployment rate fell by 0.5 per cent between March and May 2015, down to 5.5 per cent.

Minister for Youth and Women’s Employment Annabelle Ewing said: “These figures show a growing economy and falling unemployment – both extremely encouraging indicators and signs that the economic picture in Scotland is continuing to improve.

“Indeed, Scotland was the only country of the UK where unemployment actually fell over the quarter.

“The 20,000 fall over the year in youth unemployment also means 20,000 more young people are now benefitting from the rewards and opportunities of work – something we are determined to improve on even further.”

With the Scottish Government currently consulting on its National Performance Framework – creating a range of measures for Scotland’s development – the ScotLINK is calling for a change in approach.

Instead of using GDP, the ScotLink argues that measures should reflect economic well-being, as well as social and environmental factors.

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