Tuesday 11 November 2014

De-industrialisation in Scotland

(Continuing Sam's piece on Health in Scotland.)

"Two important bits of research into the effects of de-industrialisation appeared recently. One is:  "Health and its determinants in Scotland and other parts of post-industrial Europe: the "Aftershock of de-industrialisation" study-phase two" . The findings can be found in Briefing Paper 31, February 2012 from Glasgow Centre for Population Health.

Twelve regions where there had been de-industrialisation were examined. In the vast majority of these regions de-industrialisation caused economic and social upheaval and affected the health of populations.

However, the poor health status of West Central Scotland (WCS), compared with the other regions could not be explained in terms of current levels of poverty and deprivation.  Nor did it seem that historical poverty was responsible for the current poor health outcomes in WCS.
Post-industrial WOS
Compared with other post-industrial regions in mainland Europe, income inequalities in WCS and in other UK de industrialised regions are greater.

Health inequalities appear to be wider in WCS than in other regions.

WCS stands out in terms of a number of social factors. For example, proportionally higher numbers of its population live alone or as lone parents. Similar differences are seen in relation to aspects of child and maternal health (e.g. higher rates of teenage pregnancy).

Some of these distinguishing features - higher income inequalities, more lone parent households, more teenage mothers- are true also of the other UK post-industrial regions. In addition, these regions share a recent economic history different to that seen elsewhere in Europe.

The results suggest that poor health in WCS can be attributed to three layers of causation. First, de-industrialisation is a fundamental driver of poor health. WCS, alongside other parts of Europe, has suffered from this experience.

Second, WCS is different from the rest of the European regions studied. WCS has had different economic  and social trends. In particular WCS has been exposed to the neo-liberal policies of the UK. It has also experienced higher levels of economic inequality and higher proportions of potentially vulnerable households.
The third level has to do with factors  which causes WCS to experience worse health outcomes than similar regions within the UK. Merseyside is an example. It has a similar history and economic profile to WCS but has lower mortality.

Further research into the health effects of de-industrialisation was done by Gordon Daniels as his Ph.D thesis, "Underlying influences on health trends in post-industrial regions of Europe", under the supervision of Professor Hanlon. This research helps to explain why population health in WCS has fallen behind comparably de industrialised mainland Europe regions.

Economic models 1945-80.

A key conclusion is that, post 1945-80,  France and Germany managed better the course of de-industrialisation compared with those in the UK. 
Post Industrial Germany
France and Germany are countries with "co-ordinated economies" while the UK has a "free market" economy. In the UK this means that businesses, being primarily small businesses of fewer than 20 employees, are barely able themselves to do vocational training, basic research and development or create the conditions for long term financing. 

Some UK businesses recapitalise on the stock market. They prioritise profitability rather than growth and employment. Employee participation is weak and there is low trade union density. Generally, qualifications are low-level. Wages are low. the company organisation is hierarchical.

In Germany, in contrast, 90% of  companies are organised in federations of enterprises and it is compulsory for all companies to belong to Chambers of Commerce and industry. 

Banks are "stakeholders" in German companies and company policy is directed at long-term goals. Workers are represented on Works Councils and participate on company supervisory boards. 

Training is a matter of investment in the company. Skill and wage levels are relatively high and the wage spread is relatively low.

Thus, when de-industrialisation occurred in France and Germany, there was, in advance, concern about the potential social cost. This had a beneficial impact on life expectancy.

WCS lost its competitiveness earlier than other selected regions because the large industrial enterprises found themselves "locked-in" to an increasingly outmoded model. The state was reluctant to invest in modernisation or accept the social costs of closures.

The timing and speed of de-industrialisation also had an effect. From the 1970s onwards de-industrialisation was quick and severe in the UK, particularly in WCS, compared with elsewhere in Europe. At the same time, the government response (in terms of softening or slowing the impact of de-industrialisation) was less effective than it was in other countries.

Social protection offered during the period of de-industrialisation was also different. Typically, the income replacement rates in the UK did not match those of Germany or France and the proportion of the workforce likely to receive redundancy payments was comparatively low. Many workers, particularly men from the manufacturing industrial sector, entered into long periods of unemployment and inactivity.
Post industrial Strasbourg
The degree of autonomy/decentralisation experienced by WCS relative to all the other selected regions was limited. Although local government was a relatively strong player in the post-war era, reforms by the UK Conservative government in the early 1980s weakened local government and arguably disadvantaged the region. More protective economic policies were implemented in other regions such as the Ruhr and Nord-Pas-de-Calais. Furthermore, these same regions more successfully restructured their economies in the aftermath of de-industrialisation.

Current economic models.

The UK's liberal market economy contrasts with the co-ordinated market economies of Germany and France and the dependent market economies of Poland and the Czech Republic. Since 1980 the neo-liberal policies in place have resulted in much wider income inequalities across the UK. 

Also, compared with other economic models, liberal market economies tend to place less emphasis on vocational training within institutions and less mutual co-operation within and between organisations and firms. The research argues that as a consequence of this, local institutions and aspects of civil society played more positive roles in the other regions which were subject  to different economic models.

 Current levels of social protection are lower in WCS and the rest of the UK than in other regions and countries. That places WCS at a comparative disadvantage given the importance of social protection for population health. Policy-makers can affect health outcomes. The key is to focus on the creation of a successful society with a strong diverse economy. UK governments  for the past 50 years have failed to do that.  An improvement in health outcomes for Scotland depends on control of our own economic and welfare policies.


  1. Thought provoking stuff.

    1. I thought so too. The UK has made such a mess of things that other European countries have made a far better job of.

  2. It is interesting to know that your gut tells you that the free market model in the UK - a product of following the American economic model - must be the root cause of our social ills in our industrial heartlands. Our economy is based on consumerism, which means that the raison d'etre has become product aquisition.

    That is fine for the middle classes but it completely neglects the ability of poorer people to fit in with this model.

    Add to that celebrity culture and the dreams of winning stardom or riches through the Lottery and you have the perfect recipe for the disaster that confronts us.

    1. Hi Bill.

      I'd have said that if you're going to have a society that is based on consumerism, then firstly you should try to make some of the stuff yourself instead of buying it in.

      But a huge swathe of the population, as you point out, are excluded from buying stuff, at least anything that would be made here.

      Which is why the vast amount of the consumerism is fed by cheap cheap products imported from China, India, Far East, Brazil...etc.

      If you keep wages and pensions as low as the British ones, how can people possibly afford to buy quality goods.

      I agree with you too about so many people's ambitions. To be a celebrity...

      Not for any sense of achievement, but because they love the lifestyle of the rich and famous for being famous... like Jordan.

  3. Excellent post Sam. Let's hope SNP are enabled to turn this round AYE

    1. I think it will only be able to be turned around if we have full independence.

      You need real economic powers to make a difference on this scale.

      Jim Sillars certainly has a vision for how it can be done. The trouble is we need to be able to do things that the UK won;t let us... like get rid of Trident, stop going to war...

  4. Let's not forget that this was a deliberate policy of Thatcher.
    'A price worth paying.'

    1. Yes, an economy to suit her husband's friends in the City.

      It meant they got very rich.

      I wish she had had to live out her last 10 years in one of the areas that had been devastated by her schemes. Instead of living in the Ritz, as guests of the Channel Islands' residents The Barclay Brothers.

  5. Reading everyone's comments on Sam's piece I would say that everyone contributed something to the reasons, in particular Tris the bit where if you want consumerism you really should make some of the stuff yourself.
    The Germans, make stuff lots of stuff, my house is full of it. Bathrooms have German shower screens and sinks, funnily enough we still make good toilets. My Kitchen was made in Germany and all my appliances were but installed by Scots. We should be building things here. My Freezer in the garage is Scottish. Made in the North of Scotland, this is my second one, the last one went to charity, nothing wrong with it.
    We are being held back. many of those not in employment could have been retrained but that was never going to happen with Thatcher or her kids. We I notice now have to train ourselves for some job or other which we may or may not get.

    1. Modernisation, working together with unions and management, co-operation not conflict, is the way that the Germans have faced up to inevitable industrial change.

      The brits just closed the whole thing down and concentrated on making London the centre of banking and finance... or put another way, corruption.

      The result for us is that vast areas of (particularly) the West of Scotland where everything that the economy was based upon has gone, have been left in decay for 40 years.

      Thatcher put some government offices up here (so that her "granddaughter" Ruth could tell us all that 90% of us were dependent upon the state for our income) in an effort to soak up some of the awful and embarrassing figures on unemployment. She also instructed the Employment Service, as it was, to put people on the sick so that unemployment figures would look less embarrassing.

      The wrong type of employment (and it was) is every bit as harmful to health, as no employment. People had skills that were lost, pride that was gone. Many didn't have the skills to sit in an office and take phone calls...they were fitters and welders and joiners and upholsterers...engineers.

      It's like asking someone who trained to be a pharmacist to direct a space programme. Not dependent on transferable skills!

      And it was all done to make money for a small group of people and without any consideration, thought or care to ordinary people.

      London is a long way from Clydebank. They didn't know; they didn't care and because they were so far away, they didn't see.

      I'm vaguely reminded of the story of the Prince of Wales in the 1930s, who toured Wales and saw the awful grinding poverty. He is reported as saying that "something must be done".

      But on his return to London he was caught up in organising a shooting holiday in Kenya, and resolved to do something about it when he returned after a month. However, once out in Kenya with Mrs Simpson, he was having such a good time that he extended his holiday and the plight of the Welsh valleys was forgotten under the Kenyan sun ...

      Out of sight...

    2. Can add nothing to that Tris,and it would be more than likely that the remainder building Frigates on the Clyde and who were told to vote NO to keep their jobs may be disappointed. Should never trust the Tories or the Red Tories, not a bit concerned with our best interests. Sad as we could be on our way to a more prosperous and contented country by now.

    3. Yes indeed... Another lie.

      And I'd to laugh at Carmichael this morning saying that the reduction in unemployment over the last three months was down to the fact that Scotland opted to stay in the UK... Hello, Anyone there?

  6. "An improvement in health outcomes for Scotland depends on control of our own economic and welfare policies."

    Quite so-but, without control of our own resources, london will NEVER EVER grant us nearly enough pocket money in order that we can finance these policies……….

    I utterly utterly despair of 55% of the Scottish nation, I really do!

    1. Nigel, I hope the announcement of the First Lard of the Admiralty will remind them that they were lied to..

      I had just prepared a post on it, then I saw that Stuart had done a far better job of it than I had, so I binned it.


      Jim Murphy... liar.