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30 June 2021

How the UK became the poor man of northern Europe

A new analysis has found that Britain had the lowest GDP per capita of any north-west European country from 2000-21.

By Polly Bindman

The UK is the poorest country in north-west Europe on a per-capita basis, according to a recent analysis by the House of Commons research library. 

The analysis – based on International Monetary Fund (IMF) data – shows the wealth per capita for every year of the 21st century. It places Luxembourg at the top of the list with the highest GDP per capita, with over £80,000 per person, and the UK at the very bottom, with £31,038. 

How the UK became the poor man of northern Europe
GDP per capita from 2000-21
Source: House of Commons Library

The study was conducted for the SNP. The party’s deputy Westminster leader, Kirsten Oswald, claimed that the figures were evidence of why Scotland should break away from the “poor man of north-west Europe”.

Oswald said: “It’s increasingly clear that independence is the only way to unlock Scotland’s full economic potential – so we can be as wealthy and successful as our European neighbours.

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“The UK is the poor man of north-west Europe, with the lowest wealth per head of any country for the whole of the 21st century, and a wealth gap with our European neighbours that has grown worse over the past two decades.”