By Michael Northcott Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Tally-ho! Britain to drop out of top ten economies

Well, it's not going to be until about 2050, but recent research suggests that Britain's output will fall behind in the global race over the next 40 years.

Anyone hankering after the old days of British industrial dominance really must have their slice of humble pie now. Economists at PricewaterhouseCoopers have warned that Britain’s GDP will be overtaken by Mexico and Indonesia over the next 40 years, pushing the country into 11th place globally.

PwC’s report, which is called BRICS and Beyond, also reckons the US, Japan, Germany, France and Italy will also be pushed down the league table by what it calls the ‘E7’ of emerging economies, such as China, India, Brazil – and it would seem, Mexico.

Still, the report predicts only that the UK will fall behind by the single measure of total GDP. Look at the metrics another way, and our productivity looks a little safer. The report finds that GPD per capita will place the UK fourth in the world, behind the US, Canada and France by 2050. 

Still, regardless of any of the figures, the UK is not the only country with something to worry about. The PwC report also predicts that China’s GDP will outstrip the US as the largest in the world as early as 2017, and in Europe, Russia will overtake Germany as the continent’s biggest player by the 2050 mark.

It seems the old Western economies are losing their grip. Still, it is no surprise that China and India are not far off overtaking everyone else. Countries with more than a billion citizens are bound to overtake island nations like the UK for example, which at the last count had a piffling 70 million people or so.

Of course, this is only a forecast (ie a well-educated guess) and may very well not happen. If the past few years have taught us anything, it’s that we should never forget the words of famous US baseball player and coach Yogi Berra. ‘It’s tough to make predictions’ he once said. ‘Especially about the future.’ 

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