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Purpose Target: Productivity (2007-2016)

 To rank in the top quartile for productivity against our key trading partners in the OECD by 2017

Current Status
Scotland’s productivity performance relative to the lowest ranked country in the top quartile of OECD countries has been maintained in 2014.

Since the baseline position of 2006, the gap in productivity performance between Scotland and the closest ranked country in the top quartile is broadly unchanged, from 23.8% to 23.5% in 2014, but has varied from year to year.

Changes in productivity during this period reflect variations in the adjustment in GDP and employment across countries as a result of the global downturn and differences in the timing and nature of the recovery phase.

Last Update: 20 January 2016


Why is this Purpose Target important?
What will influence this Purpose Target?
What is the Government's role?
How is Scotland performing?
Criteria for recent change
Further information

Why is this Purpose Target important?

Productivity is a measure of how well an economy uses resources to produce output and is a fundamental determinant of international competitiveness and living standards.

Productivity is generally measured as the amount of output (goods and services) produced in an economy adjusted for the amount of labour (i.e. the number of workers or hours worked) used to produce that level of output. However, the Government Economic Strategy also emphasises that a focus on resource efficiency will help ensure that the Scottish economy remains competitive in globally challenging times, and provide opportunities for a new source of long-term competitive advantage.

Over the long-term, improvements in productivity performance will increase the competitiveness of an economy and make the largest contribution to increases in overall economic growth rates. Improving Scotland's productivity performance is therefore central to the Government Economic Strategy.

What will influence this Purpose Target?

International evidence identifies a range of drivers that influence productivity performance, including:

  • Investment in Infrastructure
  • Resource Efficiency
  • A skilled, educated and adaptable workforce
  • Innovation, Commercialisation and Research and Development (R&D)
  • Enterprise
  • Effective and efficient public services
  • A competitive business environment

What is the Government's role?

In line with these drivers, the Government Economic Strategy sets out a range of actions to support improvements in Scotland's Productivity Performance, including:

  • Helping firms to compete in international markets
  • Encouraging leadership development and effective skills utilisation
  • Supporting resource efficiency and the transition to a low carbon economy
  • Investing in Scotland's transport and digital infrastructure
  • Supporting innovation and commercialisation
  • Ensuring education is responsive and aligned to demand
  • Improving health and well-being
  • Effectively utilising Scotland's public resources
  • Providing effective and accessible enterprise support

How is Scotland performing?

The evaluation is based on the change in the gap between productivity levels in Scotland and the lowest ranked country in the top quartile (rank 8th). The latest data show that Denmark has been the lowest ranked country in the top quartile in 2013 and 2014. In 2014 Scotland was ranked 19th (out of 32 countries) for productivity levels amongst OECD countries, placing Scotland near the top of the third quartile.

In 2013, Scottish productivity levels were 75.7% of levels in Denmark – a gap of 24.3%. In 2014, productivity levels in Scotland were 76.5% of levels in Denmark – a gap of 23.5%. Between 2013 and 2014 the gap between productivity levels in Scotland and the lowest ranked country in the top quartile decreased by 0.8 percentage points when rounded to one decimal place.

The OECD data bank now includes information on new accession countries Chile, Estonia and Israel. These countries have not been included in the analysis to allow like-for-like reporting over the life of this indicator.

GDP per hour worked


Scottish Productivity levels

Source: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Office for National Statistics
The data for this chart is available at the bottom of the page.

Criteria for recent change

This evaluation is based on: any difference in the gap within +/- 1 percentage points of last year's figure suggests that the position is more likely to be maintaining than showing any change. A decrease in the gap of 1 percentage point or more suggests that the position is improving; whereas an increase in the gap of 1 percentage point or more suggests the position is worsening. The change in levels are calculated using unrounded numbers, but are only presented to 1 decimal place.

Further information

For information on general methodological approach, please click here.

Scotland Performs Technical Note

Statistics Topic Page

View Purpose Target Data

Downloadable document:

Title:Productivity (2007-2016)
Description:Productivity (2007-2016)
File:Productivity [XLS, 300.5 kb: 10 Mar 2016]
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