Scottish Parliament Information Session, November 2017 Presentation


Constructing an international index of economic democracy


New research highlights the links between economic democracy and inequality.

A new ground breaking international economic democracy index has been developed by researchers at the University of Glasgow and Nottingham Trent University in partnership with the New Economics Forum and Oxfam and funded by the ESRC. The index was the subject of an event that took place at the Scottish Parliament on Thursday evening (22nd November 2017). The event was well-attended by stakeholders ranging from MSPs, academics, economists including the Scottish Government’s Chief Economist, trade unionists and other organisations.

The event hosted by Bob Doris MSP for the Maryhill and Springburn Constituency andintroduced by speaker, Jamie Hepburn MSP, Minister for Employability and Training highlighted the significance of the index – which offers an important new indicator of economic development, by measuring the extent of democratic engagement and public participation in the economy.

The researchers have also found a strong causal link between economic democracy and inequality across OECD countries. In other words, countries with high levels of economic democracy have low levels in inequality. There is also a strong statistically significant and positive correlation between economic democracy and labour productivity.

The research was funded by the ESRC and undertaken by Professor Andrew Cumbers and Professor Robert McMaster and their team at the University of Glasgow as well as Professor Michael White from Nottingham Trent University. The parliamentary briefing emphasised the importance of protecting individual economic rights, strong collective associations and the spreading of decision-making powers across an economy to cultivating economic democracy in the wider sense. The Nordic countries tended to sore highest on the index with the US and UK relatively lowly ranked compared to other developed economies.

After the presentation, the stakeholder discussion provided the research team with an interesting set of questions in relation to the availability of datasets and potential future avenues to consider ensuring research robustness of the index as well as greater comprehensiveness of the data with the potential of leading to clearer picture of just how inequality impacts on democracy.

Professor Andrew Cumbers commented:

“The event provided a unique opportunity to gather together parliamentarians, government officials and key stakeholders to assess their interest in our emerging research area. There was clear support for this work at this event and I look forward to expanding the dataset with a view to rolling out the index and making it accessible to other researchers.”

Bob Doris MSP for the Mayhill and Springburn Constituency stated: –

I was happy to host this interesting and timely discussion into the invaluable work being carried out by the University of Glasgow. As the MSP for the Maryhill and Springburn constituency I represent one of the most deprived areas in Glasgow. Only too often I see constituents alienated from wider society due to inequalities which ultimately led on to disengagement from the democratic process. 

 While this research provides an insightful account of these issues, I look forward to welcoming Andy and his team back to the Scottish Parliament once their research has progressed further- this will then allow parliamentarians to better understand the fragility of democratic engagement of some in constituencies with more prevalent levels on inequality.

Jamie Hepburn, MSP, Minister for Employability and Skills pledged his interest in the research and emphasised his continued commitment to creating a fairer and more equitable society in Scotland. He stressed the importance of the issues raised in the seminar and said that he hoped that the research findings would be fed into the Scottish Government’s National Economic Strategy.


Notes: –

For further information in relation to the presentation and blog please follow this link:

For further details on the research project contact Professor Andy Cumbers at

For media and public affairs related enquiries please email Gillian McCallum at or call 07581010391