Does the UK have the third worst economic performance among G20 nations?

Published: 30 Jan 2013

"Since the Chancellor's spending review more than two years ago, out of the major G20 economies, Britain has been 18th out of 20 for growth."

Ed Miliband, Prime Minister's Questions, 30 January 2013

After we learned last week that the economy contracted by 0.3% in the final quarter of last year, it was no surprise that growth - or the lack of it - dominated Labour Leader Ed Miliband's questions to the Prime Minister in this afternoon's PMQs.

According to Mr Miliband, since the Chancellor announced his first Spending Review in October 2010, the UK had been outperformed by all but one of its international competitors in the G20 group of advanced economies. So has Britain fallen behind to quite this degree?

Certainly if we look at the economic performance data published by the OECD, the UK's economic performance since the third quarter of 2010 has been sluggish when compared to other G20 nations.

Looking at the graph above, we can see that there are indeed two countries that have actually performed worse than the UK, whose economy has grown by 0.75% since Q3 2010: Italy (whose economy has shrunk by nearly 2% over the same period) and Japan (whose economy has grown by less than 0.1%).

Whether or not we can absolutely conclude that the UK is 18th out of 20 countries is slightly dubious, as data for one country - Saudi Arabia - isn't available, so we don't know how it compares to the UK.

Of course, this data only covers the period to the end of Q3 2012, since when we have had another update on the UK's economic performance. While this could in theory see the UK slip further down the league table, this seems unlikely, as both of the countries below us (Japan and Italy) have also seen contractions in Q4.

By contrast, the UK is some way behind the leading group of nations, such as China, India and Indonesia - all of whom have seen growth of over 10% over the same period.

Mr Miliband's claim does therefore seem to stack up, with the important caveat that we are actually only considering 19 of the G20 countries in this analysis, as data for Saudi Arabia isn't available.


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