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Last Updated: Monday, 6 February 2006, 12:32 GMT
Health 'stalling' economic growth
Job Centre
Employment rates, health and the economy are said to be interlinked
Scotland's poor health record could be holding back the economy, according to a leading business group.

An annual survey by the Federation of Small Businesses found Scotland was making limited economic progress and none in health and education.

The report on wealth and health placed Scotland 15th out of 31 other major industrialised countries.

Andy Willox from the FSB said health improvements were needed to improve productivity and boost economic growth.

Switzerland retained its position at the top of the 2006 Index of Success, while Turkey remained at the bottom.

Scotland was found to be the sixth best performing area in Britain and it achieved the country's top UK-wide education rating.

Life expectancy

However, Scotland came bottom for life expectancy. The study stated that, UK-wide, Scots were on average likely to die almost one year earlier than their neighbours in North East England, which was rated the UK's poorest region.

FSB Scottish policy convener Andy Willox said: "Health, education, the employment rate and economic performance are all interlinked.

"Improvements in health or education should help businesses recruit and retain healthy and highly skilled staff, thus boosting productivity and, ultimately, economic growth."

There has been no progress in health, education or the employment rate relative to other countries
Andy Willox
Federation of Small Businesses

He said that while Scotland had made limited progress in economic performance, it was still a long way down the table.

"The only individual indicator that shows signs of movement is GDP per capita, which has elevated Scotland two places above France and Japan," he said.

"However, there has been no progress in health, education or the employment rate relative to the other countries of the OECD."

Mr Willox said he shared First Minister Jack McConnell's ambition to turn Scotland into the best small country in the world, but added that it was still well behind similar sized countries such as Norway, Ireland and Switzerland.

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