Scottish independence: Study casts doubt on Alex Salmond's claims that Scotland would be '14th richest country in world'

Research suggests that foreign-owned companies' profits go overseas

Fresh doubts have been cast on Alex Salmond’s claim that an independent Scotland would be one of the richest countries in the world by a new study.

In its Yes Scotland campaign, the Scottish National Party (SNP) has quoted figures ranking it as the 14th wealthiest nation using GDP as a measure – four places above the UK.

But a report by economics professors at the University of Glasgow, claims foreign ownership of much of Scotland’s oil, salmon and whisky industries diverts the wealth generated overseas.

The study, commissioned by the Guardian, adds another layer of confusion to hotly-debated figures, after rival camps both claimed Scots would be £1,000 richer.

While Mr Salmond, the First Minister, said each person would be £1,000 better off a year if the nation opts to go it alone, UK ministers countered by claiming Scots would be £1,400 richer if they remained in the Union.

A war of words ensued, with Danny Alexander calling the SNP’s figures a “bogus bonus” and Mr Salmond accusing the Treasury of “trying to cook the books“.

Danny Alexander (right) has caused controversy among Liberal Democrat activists by supporting George Osborne's spending cuts Danny Alexander (right) has defended the Treasury's figures. According to the new study, the level of foreign ownership means that Scotland’s actual income is as much as £2,990 less per head than the SNP suggests.

The study used a measure for national income that put Scotland at 20th among the 34 countries in the OECD group of developed nations.

John McLaren, the co-author of the report, said the GNI [gross national income] measure showed wealth smaller than GDP.

“However, this assumes the majority [around two-thirds] of North Sea profits stay in Scotland,” he told the Guardian.

“Both survey and company ownership data suggests that this would not be the case.”

An average of 12 casks of whisky - holding about 2,000 litres of alcohol - are produced each week at Edradour, Scotland's smallest distillery, located near Pitlochry in Perthshire Whisky is one of Scotland's biggest earners but foreign-owned companies siphon off profits abroad. There are also concerns that uncertainty about the financial stability of an independent Scotland would make foreign investors take flight.

A spokesman for the Scottish Government defended the use of GDP figures and said independence would ensure wealth benefited everyone in society.

He added: “The Scottish Government has already published an estimate of GNI for Scotland, which was produced in November last year.

“It uses a range of highly detailed data sets to account for international ownership of Scottish companies and the associated income flows, and income brought back into Scotland from the activities of Scottish firms abroad.

“It also looks at cross-border wages and salaries, such as Scottish workers abroad and in the rest of the UK.”

Read more: Independent Scotland - how do the statistics add up?
Treasury accused of misrepresenting 'yes' vote cost
'Setting up independent Scotland could cost £1.5bn'
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
love + sex A new study has revealed the average size - but does that leave men outside the 'normal' range being thought of as 'abnormal'?
Arts and Entertainment
TV
Voices
The Palace of Westminster is falling down, according to John Bercow
voices..says Matthew Norman
Sport
Steve Bruce and Gus Poyet clash
football
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Graham Norton said Irish broadcaster RTE’s decision to settle was ‘moronic’
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jake and Dinos Chapman were motivated by revenge to make 'Bring me the Head of Franco Toselli! '
arts + ents Shapero Modern Gallery to show explicit Chapman Brothers film
Arts and Entertainment
Kurt Cobain performing for 'MTV Unplugged' in New York, shortly before his death
music Brett Morgen's 'Cobain: Montage of Heck' debunks many of the myths
Life and Style
life
Sport
Brendan Rodgers
football The Liverpool manager will be the first option after Pep Guardiola
News
Amazon misled consumers about subscription fees, the ASA has ruled
news
Arts and Entertainment
Myanna Buring, Julian Rhind-Tutt and Russell Tovey in 'Banished'
TV Jimmy McGovern tackles 18th-century crime and punishment
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Whitehouse as Herbert
arts + ents
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisor

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company has won the award ...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 business...

SThree: Trainee Recuitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 business...

Recruitment Genius: Lettings and Sales Negotiator - OTE £46,000

£16000 - £46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn