Both Gross Value Added (GVA) and Gross Domestic Product (GDP) are used as an indicator of the economic wealth of an area (country, region, sub-region etc) based on the value of products and services and income generated by businesses.

GVA data is required by the European Commission and is used to inform funding decisions. In certain circumstances it is therefore beginning to replace GDP data. GVA is used to denote estimates that were previously known as Gross Domestic Product (GDP) at basic prices (GDP = GVA + taxes - subsidies on products).

GVA data is workplace based (i.e. the wages and salaries of commuters are allocated to the area where they work, not where they live). GVA data per head of population is therefore significantly affected by commuting into and out of specific areas.

GDP figures per head of population are affected by the age structure of an area, relatively large proportions of persons not of working age, either retired or still at school, will reduce the GDP per head of population figure.

The economic structure of an area; the existence of low value-added service industries and the absence of high value-added manufacturing industries and producer services such as finance, business services and communications; are all likely to contribute to lower GDP figures.

Gross Value Added (GVA)

Changes in Gross Value Added (GVA) per head, 1997 - 2003 (at basic current prices)



% change in real terms

2003 GVA (£ per head UK=100)

Outer Hebrides





Orkney Islands '02





Shetland Islands '02





Highlands & Islands










Source: 2003 Western Isles Regional Accounts

The best source of accurate GDP figures for the Outer Hebrides is the 2003 Regional Accounts. (Summary of 2003 Regional Accounts.)

Regional Accounts estimates Gross Regional Domestic Product (GRDP) based on first hand survey work and analysis. GRDP is simply a measure of the total economic activity within a region, and corresponds to GDP at national level.

Outer Hebrides GRDP in 2003 was estimated at £263.02 million. Since the total resident population of the Outer Hebrides in 2003 was 26,100 (General Register Office for Scotland, 2003), GDRP per head in that year is estimated at £10,078.

In 2003 total GRDP and GRDP per head of population estimates for the Outer Hebrides were 66% of the equivalent UK GDP per head of population (£16,383). It was also substantially lower than comparable estimates of GRDP per head for Scotland (£15,409) as a whole.

For more detail on GDP and GVA go to the Economy Section at Office for National Statistics (Opens in a new window or downloads a file)