Media coverage of the Euro crisis has ranged from smug to whatever the adjective is for schadenfreude. There has been a (usually implicit) assumption that the foreigners needed an economics lesson and we Brits could and should have taught it. But yesterday’s statistics for GDP per capita in European Union member states suggest that our performance relative to the rest of the EU has got worse as the global crisis has gone on.
This table looks at the UK’s GDP per capita, relative to the EU average. So, in 2011, for instance, the UK’s GDP per capita was 1.08 times the EU average. The EU average is for the 27 current members throughout and measured in Purchasing Power Standards (a common statistical measure that allows us to remove the distorting effect of countries’ different price levels).
GDP per capita is usually a good basis for comparing economic performance in rich countries like the UK because it takes differing populations into account. Of course, this country has above average GDP per capita, now that the southern and eastern European countries are EU members, but what I’d focus on is the direction in which our economy is moving. This changed before the global crisis hit us, but it accelerated after 2007.
We certainly don’t seem to be in any position to lecture the rest of Europe about how to run their economies.