Britain's national income: rather worse than flatlining

There’s been some controversy about the impact of ‘austerity’ measures on the UK  growth rate.   Britain’s economy has been described as ‘flatlining’, but that doesn’t take into account the erosion of the value of its currency.  I’ve been looking at the World Bank’s World Development stats.   It may be difficult to pick the trend out from money values alone, so I converted the figures for GNI per capita to index numbers, taking 2008 as 100. It makes for a neat interactive graph on Excel, but I couldn’t work out how to display it in the blog, so here’s a table instead.

2008 2009 2010 2011
Australia 100 103.47 109.79 117.65
Canada 100 96.39 99.52 104.83
Germany 100 100.16 101.91 104.24
Denmark 100 98.83 100.93 101.83
Belgium 100 98.96 101.79 101.79
Netherlands 100 99.53 99.51 101.70
United States 100 95.95 98.89 101.52
Sweden 100 93.20 96.93 101.45
France 100 101.05 100.6 101.14
Finland 100 97.04 98.27 99.6
Italy 100 99.47 99.41 98.69
Spain 100 100.91 98.74 96.99
Greece 100 103.55 97.45 90.4
United Kingdom 100 90.2 84.09 82.80

The UK performed worse in the period 2008-2011 than every other country in this list – it’s not quite the worst performance in the world, but it comes close.  Some  countries which have been castigated for poor performance – Greece, Spain and Italy – also had declines in outcomes in the later two years, but none of them has done as badly as Britain over the four-year period.   That may be because the other three are in the Euro and the value of individual incomes in the Euro zone has not been eroded in the way that they have in the sterling area.


  1. Richard Kerley

    Fascinating data Paul ; what intrigues me in this as so much of the other available data is the [increasing ??] extent to which – at least in recent years – it’s been hard to get data congruence either between published formal data or such apparent evidence as is available in social or public behaviour . So here , e.g. is the availabvle data on , say , unemployment consistent with the adjusted GNI you show …or for that matter the famous Economist Big Mac PPP Scale ?
    Best wishes

  2. Paul Spicker

    The World Bank’s PPP figures (available here) flatten the distribution, and show the UK at 97.8, performing slightly better than Spain (97.3) and rather better than Greece (87.6), but worse than everyone else. That’s admittedly probably closer to the way it feels.

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