Wellbeing economy monitor: December 2023 update

The monitor brings together a range of indicators to provide a baseline for assessing progress towards the development of a wellbeing economy in Scotland.

5. Summary of the data

The table below summarises progress with respect to the indicators. The Charts in detail section provides more information on performance against each of the indicators. Performance is assessed as improving, maintaining or worsening based on the change between the last two data points of an indicator. Details of the assessment criteria are provided in the Technical Annex. The assessment of performance is made objectively and impartially by senior analysts in the Scottish Government. Decisions on performance are made independently of Scottish Government Ministers.

Performance has been improving for three of the indicators, maintaining for six and worsening for three. Due to methodological changes, the performance for the young people's participation indicator and the child poverty indicator cannot be confirmed.

Table 1: Summary of progress
Worsening Maintaining Improving
Wealth inequality Biodiversity Income inequality
Preventable deaths Community ownership Gender pay gap
Greenhouse gas emissions Relative poverty Active travel
Low educational attainment
Employees earning below the real living wage

Since the last update to the Wellbeing Economy Monitor was published in December 2022, new data has become available for twelve indicators: greenhouse gas emissions; biodiversity; child poverty; active travel; preventable deaths; relative poverty after housing; gender pay gap; young people's participation; investment as a share of GDP; income inequality; low educational attainment; and assets in community ownership. The new data across these indicators is summarised below.

Natural capital

In terms of greenhouse gas emissions, Scotland's Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Account for assessing progress to statutory targets indicated a reduction of 49.9% in 2021, compared to a target of a 51.1% reduction. Therefore, the emissions reduction target was not met in 2021.[7]

New data has become available for two out of the three elements of the composite biodiversity indicator. By 2019, the marine abundance index was at 59.4% of the 1994 level, and the terrestrial abundance index reached 101.3% of the 1994 level.

Human capital

The active travel indicator is comprised of two elements: the percentage of journeys under 2 miles completed by walking and the percentage of journeys under five miles completed by cycling. The percentage of journeys under 2 miles by walking in 2020 and 2021, which are not comparable with previous years or each other for methodological reasons, were 59.5% and 56.2% respectively. The percentage of journeys under 5 miles by cycling in 2020 and 2021, which are again not comparable, were 1.6% and 2.8%.

Preventable death rates increased from 214.3 in 2019 to 247.7 in 2021. The figures from 2020 and 2021 included deaths from COVID-19. When excluding COVID-19 preventable deaths, the rate decreased by 0.7% from 2019 to 2020 to 212.8 however increased by 0.1% from 2020 to 2021 to 213.1.

The proportion of children in combined material deprivation and low income after housing costs (below 70% UK median income) was 11% in 2019-22, similar to the previous periods. However, the latest two estimates cannot be directly compared to previous estimates due to changes in the way people responded to the question during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the period 2019-22, 21% of the population lived in relative poverty after housing costs. This is in line with the broadly stable trend of 19% of people in poverty observed over the last five periods.

Low educational attainment decreased by 0.6 percentage points from 9.7% in 2020 to 9.1% in 2021.

Social capital

The gender pay gap for full-time employees decreased by 2.34 percentage points from 10.18% in 2022 to 7.84% in 2023.

Young people's participation in education, training and development and employment (for 16- to 19-year-olds) is 94.3% in 2023[8], the highest level ever reported. A methodological change between the 2022 and 2023 publications resulted in improvements to the data quality for 2023. The inclusion of HMRC data from January 2023 in the Annual Participation Measure has impacted positively on the participation rate for 2023 but has caused a step change in the time series. Therefore, due to the methodology change, it is not appropriate to discuss the scale of improvement so there is no performance assessment for 2023 for this indicator.

Produced and financial capital

Investment as a share of GDP decreased from 17.1% in 2019 to 16.6% in 2020 and remained unchanged in 2021.

Income inequality has fluctuated throughout the period 2000-2022, with the 2019-22 period having a Palma ratio of 118%.

The share of employees earning less than the real living wage decreased from 14.5% in 2021 to 9.0% in 2022, continuing the downward trend seen since 2018.

The number of assets in community ownership increased from 738 in 2021 to 754 in 2022. The increase is line with the steady upward trend in the number of assets owned since 2000.

There is no new data for wealth inequality.


Email: wellbeing.economy@gov.scot

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