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
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
i100
Travel
Suite dreams: the JW Marriott in Venice
travelChic new hotels in 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Sink the Pink's 2013 New Year's Eve party
musicFour of Britain's top DJs give their verdict on how to party into 2015
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

Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant- NY- Investment Bank

Not specified: Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant Top tier investment bank i...

Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Day In a Page

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
Sports Quiz of the Year

Sports Quiz of the Year

So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect