Sunday, 29 April 2012

Why antis should go to Iceland

The International Monetary Fund has just published its latest statistics for the relative wealth per head of different countries. And, for Iceland, Ireland, Norway and the UK, they paint a fascinating picture.

The figures are based on 'purchasing power parity' which allows us to make a fair comparison between the different countries, and they show that Norway, Ireland and Iceland are all wealthier per head than the UK. Indeed, at no point in the financial crisis did any of the countries dip below the UK in this IMF wealth league table.

If we take a look at 2010, when the full impact of the crisis was being felt, the wealth per head for each country, in current international dollars, was:

Norway               52,164.773
Ireland                 39,491.564
Iceland                36,535.164
UK                     35,343.700

The UK was 1,191.5 behind the 'poorest' of the three, Iceland at this point.

Fast-forward to this year, 2012, and the IMF estimates:

Norway               54.479.058
Ireland                 40.443.263
Iceland                39,082.925
UK                     36,605.022

This year, the UK is now forecast to be 2,477.9 "current international dollars" behind 'insolvent' Iceland.

And putting the IMF's crystal ball to full use, lets take a look at referendum year, 2014. What will be the relative strength of the 4 countries by then? Won't being a powerhouse big country have propelled the United Kingdom above lowly Iceland at least?

Norway               57,217.364
Ireland                 44,283.334
Iceland                41,647.386
UK                     38,935.325

It seems not. In 2014, the UK won't even reach the level of GDP per capita that Iceland enjoyed in 2012. The wealth gap between the two countries will have increased, once again, to 2,712.1 per person.

Similarly, for Ireland, the wealth gap in 2010 saw the Irish still 4,148 "current international dollars" ahead of the UK in wealth per head and, according to the IMF, that Irish advantage will increase to 5348 in 2014.

Norway's 16,821 advantage per person in 2010 becomes 18,727 - pretty much 50% wealthier than the UK.

Not quite what you'd expect from listening to some of the rhetoric, even still, of the anti-parties. Perhaps they should go to Iceland, or Ireland or Norway - small, independent countries which, it seems, now form an Arc of . . . faster recovery.


  1. I am sure that with your connections you could also come up with wealth gap for each country; the difference between the top x% and he bottom Y%.

    I would bet you that the gap would be greatest of all.

  2. GDP is simply an expression of volume; it doesn't tell us the full story about how money is distributed or quality of life in a society.

    1. True, and the figures for wealth equality would be still worse news for the UK

  3. Very nice analysis Stephen. Those figures need to be broadcast far and wide


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