HL Deb 11 March 1998 vol 587 cc63-4WA
Lord Roberts of Conwy

asked Her Majesty's Government:

To what extent the high proportion of retired people who live in Wales affects Wales's per capita gross domestic product (GDP); and how this compares with other parts of the United Kingdom. [HL 890]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey

The information requested falls within the responsibility of the Chief Executive of the Office for National Statistics who has been asked to arrange for a reply to be given.

Letter to Lord Roberts of Conwy from the Director of the Office for National Statistics, Dr. T. Holt, dated 11 March 1998.

I have been asked to reply, as Director of the Office for National Statistics (ONS), to your recent question on per capita gross domestic product (GDP) figures for Wales.

Regional GDP is a measure of the economic activity of a region. However, when presented in terms of GDP per head, the denominator used relates to the entire population of the region, whether they contribute directly to generating the GDP or not. The population includes those of pension age, children, and the unemployed. The importance of these groups varies from region to region, but all have a similar effect on per capita GDP. A relatively high proportion of non-working population will have a downward effect on the per capita GDP figures, while a low proportion of non-workers will have an upward effect.

The number of people in Wales of pensionable age (men over 65, women over 60) account for about 20 per cent. of the Welsh population, compared with an UK average of over 18 per cent. This implies that if, hypothetically, the proportion of pensioners in Wales was to be the same as that for the UK, then Welsh per capita GDP might be about 2 percentage points higher than it actually is. However, similar assumptions could be made about other demographic groups and for other regions. In particular, the highest proportion of pensioners is in the South West of England (21 per cent.) and the lowest is in Northern Ireland (15 per cent.). In contrast, Northern Ireland has the highest proportion of children in the UK.