Economy of Scotland

By Emil and Mikkel

The following text accounts for the economy of Scotland in general. Building on a brief introduction about the Scottish economy, it is investigated how Scotland earns its national income through cooperating with certain countries. Furthermore the history of Scottish economy is elaborated on.

Economic history

18th century

It is commonly known that the economy of Scotland is closely linked with the rest of the UK, for which reason Scotland has been a part of one of the strongest economies in world throughout history. Since 1st of May 1707 Scotland has been a part of the UK, but until the middle of the 18th century Scotland was too poor to truly exploit the huge benefits of the rapidly expanding free market. By 1750’s some progress was visible because of the expanded cooperation with England. Scotland sold linen and cattle to England and Glasgow dominated the worldwide tobacco trading. However, the tobacco trading collapsed due to the American Revolution around 1770. However a new important trade rude with West Indies turned out to make up for the loss.

19th century

Meanwhile the domestic society and economy benefitted from the Scottish Agricultural Revolution, which led to the Industrial Revolution in Scotland during the 19th century. During the 19th century the population of Scotland grew rapidly. Until the end of the 18th century, the economy of Scotland was based on agriculture, but after 1790 the economy started to industrialize.

By cooperating with the American market, the British economy could benefit from the expanding cotton industry until the American civil war in 1861. Instead, Scottish entrepreneurs and engineers managed to make Scotland become a world centre for engineering, shipbuilding, and locomotive construction, with steel replacing iron after 1870. Even though there was a huge growth in the industries, there weren’t enough jobs, which, among other things, caused 2.000.000 Scots to emigrate to America and Australia from 1841 – 1931.

20th century

Ship production continued during the 20th century. In 1970 Scotland discovered Oil in the North Sea making the country a major oil-producing nation.

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Scotland´s economy today

Scotland’s economy is very solid, and Scotland has within the last four years been voted ´European Region of the Future´ twice. With a sturdy and diverse economy coupled with a business and political environment supporting growth and entrepreneurship, it is very promising to invest or set up in Scotland. The main reason to invest in Scotland is because of the skilled and educated workforce and also because of the ready pool of skilled labour in numerous key industry sectors.


Scotland´s economy is strong because of the big labour force, with a population of around 5.3 million and a labour force of 2.49 million the economy is going strong. The high GDP, of £19,744 (per head) and £102 billion (in total), is linked to the big labour force. These numbers are from 2009 and 2010, but if we take a look on the GDP today it is still going strong.


The rising GDP is linked to the big export Scotland experience, and Scotland´s leading export industries are:

  • · Food and beverages
  • · Chemicals
  • · Business services
  • · Electronics and instrument engineering
  • · Mechanical engineering

The top export countries are:

  • · USA
  • · Netherlands
  • · France
  • · Germany