Would Nicola Sturgeon’s fairer and more equal Scotland be a more productive one too?


The First Minister will speak on this topic at Scotland’s Inclusive Growth Conference in Glasgow. She has already made quite a clear association between equality and productivity in saying:

‘That is why we are focusing on fair work, encouraging employers to boost productivity by investing in their workplace and paying the living wage.’

We already know, from the work of Kate Pickett and Richard Wilkinson in their research for the 2009 book ‘The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better’ of the strong correlations, in ‘rich’ societies, between levels of equality/inequality and several indicators of good health in those societies. In brief, they show that unequal societies have lower educational outcomes, higher drug use and homicide rates, lower trust and higher rates of mental health problems. The authors do not suggest that more equal societies are more productive but it seems logical that unhealthy, violent, drug-abusing societies will be less productive, by virtue of having a relatively smaller population of able workers and relatively lower levels of resource to invest in it. I’ll come back to this below but first here is a selection of the graphs from the book highlighting the strength of the correlations between inequality and negative social outcomes:







So, what about productivity. Well fortunately other researchers have looked into this. See this from the OECD:

‘OECD research has found that high levels of inequality may impact growth negatively by causing a lack of investment in human capital among low income families. This could also affect productivity growth in our economies.’


What this suggests is the need for investment in education but, more than that, investment in a wide range of initiatives designed to reduce inequality including a living wage for all workers and efficient and affordable transport to both enable low income workers to travel to work and to enable families to engage in the wider culture of the society thus providing their children with the cultural capital they need to succeed in the largely middle-class environments they will meet in university and in many workplaces. It also suggests the need for a benefits system which offers dignity, the same aforementioned opportunities a living wage offers and a free and effective health service that low income families can access in order to maintain the health requirements for employment. Despite the constraints of limited devolution of power, the Scottish Government is working toward these conditions in a way not apparent in the actions of Westminster.


6 thoughts on “Would Nicola Sturgeon’s fairer and more equal Scotland be a more productive one too?

  1. Clydebuilt October 20, 2017 / 12:29 pm

    Weeellll. It would almost certainly produce more ships. Govan yards have been betrayed squeal the shop stewards who betrayed their Union members during the Independence referendum.

    Instead of 5 * Type 31 frigates as promised, Bae have joined with Camell Laird of Liverpool to compete for the order. Even if they win the tender, these ships will be assembled in Liverpool.

    That’s on top of the promised 13 type 26 Frigates being whittled down to 8 then 3, with further orders still to be signed up for, fingers crossed and better not talk about Independence!

    This news has had hardly any coverage in the Scottish MSM apart from a page 2.article in Thursday’s Herald So tell your pals.





  2. Ludo Thierry October 20, 2017 / 5:18 pm

    Hi John – 3 snippets of news seen today which seem approximately relevant to the thesis expounded in the article (which is one I whole-heartedly concur with) of the Scottish Govt seeking to ‘invest’ in the social/economic equality of the people to build a prosperous economy as we go:

    I cannot tell a lie – this snippet was on the beeb Jockland website – However, it managed not to be found on the main news page – but hidden away in the ‘area’ news pages. My gut tells me that editorial ‘choice’ was based on the story showing the SNP Scottish Govt in a positive light (see below):

    Fall in young mental health patients on adult wards

    The number of young people with a mental illness being treated in non-specialist wards has seen a “significant drop”, a report has found.

    The Mental Welfare Commission said there were 207 admissions to non-specialist wards in 2014-5, dropping to 71 in the last year.

    Most of those 71 admissions – involving 66 young people – were to adult wards.

    The Scottish government welcomed the report but said it recognised there was still work to be done.

    Every health board in Scotland reported a fall in treatment on non-specialist wards, but the commission said there were “marked” reductions in Greater Glasgow and

    Clyde, Tayside, Ayrshire and Arran, and Grampian.

    The commission believes that the reductions have been achieved by staffing “stability” in Scotland’s three specialist inpatient units.

    There have also been improvements to admission and discharge procedures in these units and an expansion of services provided by Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services (Camhs), the commission said.

    This snippet I have seen only on the Scot.gov site (ignored by MSM so far):

    The Scottish Government’s baby boxes scheme began in August this year, and since then 10,000 boxes have been delivered, and registration for baby boxes has reached 20,000. (NOTE how Scottish parents are appreciating the benefits Baby Box scheme despite the absurd and pernicious propaganda spread by the beeb/MSM not long ago).

    This snippet also only observed on Scot.giov site thus far – part of the ‘equality’ process involves raising the cash to fund the schemes – ‘pooling and sharing’ is a phrase that somehow jumps into my mind (see below):

    Scotland’s council tax base increased to 1.967 million Band D equivalents in September 2017. This figure, calculated after taking account of Council Tax Reduction, is much higher than that for 2016, due primarily to the increases in the multipliers in Bands E to H, which took effect from April 2017.

    Thanks, Ludo

    Liked by 1 person

  3. johnrobertson834 October 20, 2017 / 5:44 pm

    Very interesting especially the fall in young mental health patients being admitted to non-specialist wards.


  4. Ludo Thierry October 22, 2017 / 9:29 pm

    Hi John – From beeb website I see tory Minister for Communities is saying the Westminster govt should be loosening its crazy austerity purse-strings to fund affordable housing.

    The government should borrow money to fund the building of hundreds of thousands of new homes, a cabinet minister says.

    Communities Secretary Sajid Javid said taking advantage of record-low interest rates “can be the right thing if done sensibly”.

    He said between 275,000 and 300,000 homes a year – a level of house-building not seen since the 1960s – were needed in England alone to help tackle the shortage in affordable housing.

    “We are looking at new investments and there will be announcements,” he said, saying these would come in next month’s Budget

    Here’s hoping this slight pivot towards sanity can last out until the budget – I’m not getting my hopes up. The Barnett Consequentials from such an ‘about turn’ in tory policy would be put to much good use here in Scotland.

    Ta, Ludo


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