Projects, Scottish Economy

An updated 2018 SAM for Scotland

What is the purpose of the SAM?

Quality data and analytical tools are essential for making effective decisions, whether the question at hand is about how to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic, address demographic change, “level-up” across regions, or to aid the transition to net-zero. For economists and policymakers, a Social Accounting Matrix (SAM) is a powerful economic accounting system representing the flow of incomes and expenditures throughout a given economy in a year. Additionally, SAMs are often widely used to provide baseline data for the calibration of computable general equilibrium (CGE) models. These models allow the study of how policy or non-policy changes may impact different parts of the economy, and the economy as a whole, by comparing counterfactual scenarios against the baseline provided by the SAM. This makes a SAM a crucial building block of rigorous economic analysis. We discuss here the first publication of a Scottish SAM for 2018, constructed as part of a recent study by the Fraser of Allander Institute on the economic impact of COVID-19 on tourism and the Scottish economy. In this note, we present an aggregate version of the 2018 SAM and use this to take the reader through a simple explanation of its contents. The fully disaggregated 2018 Scottish SAM can be accessed at:

What is a SAM?

A SAM is a matrix of data that captures the economic interactions between productive sectors/industries, factors of production (labour and capital), institutions (households, corporations, and government), the capital account (savings and investment), and the external account (import and export). There are four core benefits of presenting income and expenditure information in the format of a SAM:

  1. The accounts in the SAM are presented in a simple matrix form that allow us to visually represent a snapshot of a given economy in a clear and concise way.

  2. The accounts in the SAM “balance”, i.e., the sum of a column must equal the sum of the corresponding row. Each entry in the SAM simultaneously captures the source of the expenditure and the recipient of that income. Therefore, the SAM explicitly captures the interconnected nature of a given economy.

  3. The SAM combines and reconciles economic data from a range of sources. It provides an extensive view of the economy, including how the productive sectors, factors of production, institutions, the capital account, and the external account interact and serves as a unifying set of full economic accounts.

  4. The accounts within the SAM can easily be aggregated or disaggregated to suit the specific requirements of the researcher and for presentation purposes.

Table 1 shows the SAM structure with Scottish data for 2018, aggregated to 14 x 14 sectors/industries. All incomes received and expenditures made by economic agents are measured in 2018 basic prices.

Table 1: Aggregate 2018 SAM for Scotland, 2018 basic prices (£ million).

  1. Agriculture  2. Manufacturing 3. Travel and Hospitality  4. Services and Other  5. Labour  6. Other value added  7. Net commodity taxes 8. Households  9. Corporations  10. Government  11. Capital  12. Non-resident spending   13. RUK 14 ROW Total
1. Agriculture  3856 1568 430 780 4414 229 270 280 9437 9289 30555
2. Manufacturing 3787 19198 1041 6936 17987 1731 13107 1249 18951 11904 95891
3. Travel and Hospitality  44 247 367 655 7138 693 80 2642 433 95 12394
4. Services and Other  1166 5356 847 13010 31226 37156 2361 326 18092 9546 119085
5. Labour  6520 27572 4659 41922 80673
6. Other value added 6256 17536 1880 33939 59611
7. Net commodity taxes 259 3429 911 3734 11337 5 841 823 15 21354
8. Households 80673 11898 15506 24159 6384 4146 142766
9. Corporations 38981 4825 15801 4777 4777 69162
10. Government 8732 21354 26881 9589 23299 89855
11. Capital 4283 34799 866 -6256 -4812 -232 28649
12. Non-resident spending   5668 588 6256
13. RUK 5850 13853 1570 12935 22810 3432 8858 7941 514 1252 275 79289
14. ROW 2816 7132 690 5172 11865 5836 356 4050 422 1460 39799
Total 30555 95891 12394 119085 80673 59611 21354 142766 69162 89855 28648 0 84957 40387  
The fully disaggregated 2018 Scottish SAM can be accessed at:


How is the SAM constructed?

The SAM is built by incorporating a range of economic accounts beyond the Scottish Input-Output (IO) tables (Emonts-Holley, Ross and Swales, 2014). The IO – in Scotland, produced annually by the Scottish Government – tables provide information about the interdependencies between production and consumption in the Scottish economy in a given year, and account for the largest source of data in the SAM. Whilst the IO tables provide information about the formation of income within an economy, it does not account for the distribution of income. Thus, the SAM augments the IO accounts by developing an Income and Expenditure accounts matrix that incorporates flows of income from factors of production to households (primary income distribution) and from households to other agents in the economy such as government and firms (secondary income distribution). This is done by drawing data from several sources including the  Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland (GERS) publication (Scottish Government, 2022)  and the ‘Blue Book’ (ONS, 2022). The Blue book is an annually produced document which details the UK National Accounts and is constructed using financial statistics from the UK and international governmental sources.

Applications of the SAM

The SAM has a wide range of applications including providing useful information on key economic indicators such as gross domestic product (GDP), gross national income (GNI), and gross national expenditure (GNE). The SAM is also necessary to calibrate computable general equilibrium (CGE) models which can be used to model the macroeconomic impact of various shocks to demand or supply within an economy. Previous versions of the Scottish SAM have been used to calibrate CGE models. Figus et al., (2019) used the 2009 Scottish SAM in to calibrate their CGE model in the study of household energy efficiency as an instrument of regional development policy. Likewise, Emonts-Holley et al., (2019) studied the impact of a move to a high-tax, high-spend ‘Scandinavian model’ for the Scottish economy using the 2009 SAM to calibrate their CGE model. More recently, forthcoming research by Allan, Figus, Connolly, and Maurya, (2022) made use of the 2017 Scottish SAM to calibrate their CGE model with the purpose of assessing the impact of shocks to tourism spending in Scotland in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic and recovery. The 2018 Scottish SAM will allow for rigorous economic analysis using the most up-to-date data available.

How do I read the SAM?

The all-important rule: rows show the income received by an account, and columns show the expenditures an account makes.

The most effective way to understand the SAM is to work through one of the accounts. So, let us begin by looking at the income received, and the expenditures made by the “Travel and Hospitality sector” account[1] in Table 1. Entries across the third row represent incomes received from the sale of goods and services to other accounts while entries in the third column represent expenditures made in the purchasing of goods and services from other accounts.

The total income received by this account was £12,394 million in 2018 – which we can see by looking at the total column in the third row. Of the total income received, £367 million comes from sales of goods and services by the “Travel and Hospitality sector” account to other industries in the “Travel and Hospitality sector” account[2].

In columns one, two, and four of the third row, we can see the income received from the sale of goods and services to the other aggregate sectors in the economy. The largest source of income out of these four sources is the “Services and Other sector” account which is responsible for £655 million of the total income received. The entry in the third row and column for £367 million which was previously described as income from sales is, critically, also an expenditure the account making the purchase.

Reading down the third column we can see that a considerable portion “Travel and Hospitality sector” account expenditure goes towards the labour account representing the wages paid to employees.

What are the main ‘accounts’ in the SAM?

Industries / sectoral accounts

As mentioned above, one of the most useful features of a SAM is the flexibility in the extent to which it can be aggregated. In this context aggregation refers to the combining of industrial/sectoral accounts.

Under the 2007 Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) code framework, on which the Scottish IO tables are published annually, the Scottish economy is characterised into ninety-eight productive sectors. The SAM shown in Table 1 has four sectors, but this could just as easily be two, three, five, or ninety-eight depending on the focus of the SAM application. A complete account of the SIC codes contained within each of these four sectors are shown in Table 2. As can be seen from Table 2, the range of productive industries included in each sector is much wider than their names suggest[3].

Table 2: contents of aggregated industrial sectors.

Column Account Constituent SIC Industries included:
1 Agriculture 01 – 23.5-6 Agriculture, forestry, fishing and aquaculture, primary energy, food, drink, textiles and wearing goods, wood & Paper, chemicals and pharmaceuticals, and part of rubber, clay, and glass.
2 Manufacturing 23Other – 54, 56 – 63 Rubber, clay, and glass, metal, electrical equipment, other manufacturing, utilities, construction, wholesale and retail, land transport, water transport, air transport, and part of financial and information services.
3 Travel and Hospitality 55, 56, 79. 91, 93 Accommodation, food and beverage, travel and related services, cultural services, sports and recreation.
4 Services and Other 64 – 78, 80 – 90, 92, Financial and information services, rental and leasing services, employment services, public admin & health, creative services, gambling, membership organisations, repairs, and other personal services.

Factors of Production

In a SAM, there are accounts for labour and other value-added. Together labour and other value-added constitute the factors of production in the Scottish economy. These accounts can be found in the fifth and sixth rows and columns, respectively. We can see from rows five and six that both accounts only receive income from the productive sectors i.e., the first four columns. The entry in row five and column three represents income received by the labour account for the year 2018 which comes from the “Travel and Hospitality” sector. The £4,659 million received is payment for the labour contributed to the industry.

The labour account makes only one expenditure which goes to the households account. This expenditure represents the payment of wages to Scottish households in exchange for the labour they provide. The other value-added account can be thought of as documenting the difference between the price at which a good or service is sold and the cost of purchasing all inputs, including from other industries and labour.

Domestic institutions

The households account in Table 1 is an aggregation of the household account and the account for non-profit institutions serving households (NPISH) as are separately published in the Scottish IO table. Combined, this account covers the economic activity of Scottish households and religious, political, sporting, and other institutions.

The total value of income and expenditure recorded for the household account was £142,766 million in 2018. Reading across the entries in the eighth row we can see that, unsurprisingly, the largest share of household income comes from employment income supplied by the labour account. The payment of wages seen in this entry represents 57% of total household account income with the remainder coming from government transfers (19%), income from corporations (11%), and other value-added (8%).

Industries/sectors receive 43% of the expenditures made by the households account. These purchases of goods and services can be found in the first four rows of column eight. The substantial amount of economic activity these purchases and sales generate is the main reason for economists’ interest in the spending patterns and confidence of consumers. The remaining 25% of household expenditures cover taxes such as income tax, inheritance tax, and capital gains tax paid to the government account as well as payments to corporations, and to the capital account.

Calculating the flow of income and expenditure for the corporations account is debatably the most difficult part of constructing the SAM, due to data limitations.

Total corporations account income for 2018 can be seen in the total column of row nine. Of the total £69,162 million received, 56% (£38,981 million) comes from the other value-added account. This entry, which can be seen in column six, represents profit income received by corporations. The corporations account also received income from the households and government accounts – making up 7% and 23% of total income.

Income received by the corporations account, which comes from the RUK and the rest of the world (ROW) accounts, represent profits from assets held outside of Scotland and the UK[4]. For RUK and ROW accounts, these transfers represent approximately 7% of total income.

The majority of corporate account expenditure is made up of payments to the capital account. This transaction, which accounts for 50% of 2018 total expenditure or £34,799 million, can be seen in the nineth column of the eleventh row. The remaining expenditure is distributed across the households, government, and external accounts. Expenditure directed toward the households account covers payments of capital gains, interest payments, dividends, and pensions etc. Similarly, payments to the government account cover various taxes such as corporation tax and the landfill tax etc.

The government account documents the combined economic activity of all levels of government which operate in Scotland including, UK, Scottish, and local governments. In 2018, as shown by the entry in the total column of the tenth row, the total income of the government account was £89,855 million. The three largest sources of income received by the government account come from the columns representing the households, net commodity taxes, and the rest of the UK (RUK) accounts. In 2018 the government account received £26,881 million from the household account in various taxes. This transaction, which represents 30% of the total government account income, can be seen in the eighth column of row ten.

Reading further along row ten we can see that a large share of government income comes from the RUK account. This entry accounts for 26% of total government account income and is comprised mostly of the block grant sent by the UK Government to the Scottish Government in accordance with the Barnett Formula funding arrangement.  Government income coming from the RUK account increased by approximately 8% between 2017 and 2018.

Purchases of products and services from industries/sectors make up 45% of the total spent by the government account in 2018. Government account purchases of goods and services from the productive sectors are documented in the first four rows of column ten.

Of the spending in the productive sectors, 93% occurs in the “Services and Other sector” and pays for the provision of public services such as education, health, residential and care support, and public administration. Payments to the households, corporations, and capital accounts make up 27%, 18%, and 1% of total government account expenditure, respectively. The entry in seen in the tenth column of row thirteen represents the £8,858, million that the Scottish Government transfers to the UK Government in contribution for services such as national defence and the servicing of UK public debt.

In Table 1, the capital account combines the accounts for capital formation and changes in capital inventories i.e., the capital stock account. Capital account income documents savings – the source of funding for investments – and expenditure on investments. Reading along row eleven, the combined income received from the households, corporations, and government accounts can be seen to be £39,948 million in 2018. The largest source of capital account income is the corporations account, which contributes 87% of the total income received. The households and governments account are responsible for the remaining 11% and 2%, respectively.

A balance of payments requires that a current account deficit i.e., the external account income being less than expenditure, is balanced by a capital account surplus. The negative entries in the twelfth, thirteenth, and fourteenth columns have been included for balancing purposes. Once these figures have been added to the SAM the external account, expenditure, and income balance.

The total row of column eleven shows that total capital account expenditure was £28,648 in 2018. Of which, 55% of capital account investment expenditure took place in the productive sectors.

External Account

The external account is comprised of non-resident household spending, RUK, and ROW accounts. These accounts can be seen in the last three numbered rows and columns.

Total income in 2018 for the RUK and ROW accounts can be seen in the total column of rows thirteen and fourteen to be £79,289 million and £39,799 million, respectively. For both accounts, approximately 40% of total income comes from payments from the productive sectors in exchange for imported intermediate inputs required to produce final goods and services.

Sales of imported goods and services from both accounts to the household account can be seen in column eight of rows thirteen and fourteen. These transactions account for approximately 30% of total RUK and ROW account incomes. The remaining sources of income for these accounts are primarily transfers from various accounts seen in columns nine through fourteen.

The non-resident household spending account documents the economic activity in Scotland of tourists and business travellers. We can see from the first four rows of the twelfth column, that the largest share of non-resident expenditure was in exchange for the purchase of Scottish goods and services from Scottish sectors. These transactions totalled £4,497 million in 2018. The remaining expenditure of £1,759 million can be seen in rows seven, thirteen, and fourteen. These transactions cover net commodity taxes, and the purchase of imported goods from RUK and ROW.

The total expenditure for RUK and ROW accounts can be seen in the total row of the last two numbered columns. In 2018 the total expenditure of the RUK account was £84,957 million and for the ROW account this was £40,387 million. These totals represent the purchases of Scottish exports from the productive sectors and transfers to the remaining accounts.

A focus on tourism

The SAM presented in this blog has been specifically constructed with a focus on highlighting the economic activity of tourist-facing sectors and tourist demand. The “Travel and Hospitality” sector account (defined in Table 2) was created by adapting the Scottish Government’s Sustainable Tourism Growth definition (Scottish Government, 2018) to the two-digit SIC code data available in the SAM[5]. Using this framework, we can learn about the proportion of demand for these industries which comes domestically – from Scottish households and internationally – from non-resident households.  One of the major benefits of this approach is that it makes assessing the importance of non-resident spending in each sector simpler. Non-residents spending comes primarily from tourists and business trips spending in Scotland by visitors from the rest of the UK and the rest of the world. Both types of non-resident spending are important for the Scottish economy and therefore further disaggregation is not necessary for the purpose of this blog.

We can see from Table 1 that both households and non-residents made expenditures on goods and services produced by the “Travel and Hospitality” sector. It is important to make the point that while these industries are tourist-facing i.e., they receive a large share of non-resident spending, they also receive income from Scottish households.

Non-residents spend approximately 40% of what Scottish households spend on these tourism facing goods and services. The importance of these industries to tourists and Scottish households alike may suggest that a substantial decrease in tourism spending by both Scottish households and non-residents could have further reaching implications for the economy. Many industries with a high degree of reliance on tourism revenue could suffer during periods of low tourism demand. Many of these industries however also serve Scottish households and business closures would likely reduce the variety of goods and services available for Scottish households to purchase.

Table 3: detailed content of Travel and Hospitality sector

Travel and Hospitality sector Constituent SIC  Industries included:
55 55.1 Hotels and similar accommodation
55 55.2 Holiday and other short-stay accommodation
55 55.3 Camping grounds, recreational vehicle parks and trailer parks
56 56.1 Restaurants and mobile food service activities
56 56.3 Beverage serving activities
79 79.12 Tour operator activities
79 79.9 Tour operator activities
91 91.02 Museum activities
91 91.03 Operation of historical sites, buildings and visitor attractions
93 93.04 Botanical and zoological gardens and nature reserve activities
93 93.11 Operation of sports facilities
93 93.199 Other sports activities 
93 93.21 Activities of amusement parks and theme parks
93 93.29 Other amusement and recreation activities


This document was intended to inform the reader of the ins and outs of the latest version of the Scottish SAM for the year 2018. To accomplish this task, we have shown an aggregate version of the 2018 SAM and provided an overview of how to read and use this analytical tool. Additionally, we have discussed several important transactions between the main accounts and highlighted the methodology used to derive these figures.

The dataset is produced following the methodology developed by Emonts-Holley et al (2014) Fraser of Allander Institute. The full SAM for Scotland in 2018 can be downloaded at

We acknowledge the contribution of MSc Applied Economics student Shashank Soman Pillai who updated the 2018 SAM for Scotland as part of a recent internship at the Fraser of Allander Institute.

To cite the 2018 SAM for Scotland: Williamson, J., Figus, G., Allan, G., Pillai, S. S. (2022), “Data for: 2018 Social Accounting Matrix (SAM) for Scotland”,

This work was undertaken with funding from the ESRC through the “UKRI Ideas to Address COVID-19” call (Grant reference: ES/W001195/1)



Emonts-Holley, T., Ross, A. and Swales, J. (2014) ‘A social accounting matrix for Scotland’, Fraser of Allander Economic Commentary, 38(1), pp. 84–93.

Emonts-Holley, T. et al. (2019) ‘A Scandinavian “high-tax, high-spend” model for regions? The impact of enhanced regional fiscal autonomy’, Spatial Economic Analysis, 14(3), pp. 321–338. doi:10.1080/17421772.2019.1568536.

Figus, G. et al. (2019) ‘Energy efficiency as an instrument of regional development policy? The impact of regional fiscal autonomy’, Regional Studies, 53(6), pp. 815–825. doi:10.1080/00343404.2018.1490012.

ONS (2021) United Kingdom National Accounts – Blue Book 2021. Available at: (Accessed on 08/06/22).

Scottish Government (2018) Tourism in Scotland: the economic contribution of the sector: a report commissioned by the Tourism Leadership Group. Available at: (Accessed on 08/06/22).

Scottish Government (2021) Government expenditure & revenue Scotland: 2020-21. Available at: (Accessed on 08/06/22).


[1] The “Travel and Hospitality sector” account is an aggregation made for the purpose of this blog which includes many tourist facing industries. A full breakdown of the aggregate SAM can be found in Table 2 in the following section.

[2] Such sales and purchases between industries in the productive sector are of intermediate inputs required to produce final goods and services.

[3] The incomes and expenditures of the “Travel and Hospitality sector” seen in Table 1 are the sum of the incomes and expenditures of SIC codes 55, 56, 79, 91, and 33. The industries included are shown in Table 2.

[4] These sums are calculated by multiplying the Scottish share of UK Property and Entrepreneurial Income and the corporate share of other value-added. This figure is then equally split between RUK and ROW – both accounting for 7% of the total corporate account income in 2018.

[5] The methodology used to aggregate the “Travel and Hospitality sector” can be seen in Table 3. If a portion of a two-digit SIC code was included in the Sustainable Tourism Growth definition, the entire two-digit SIC code was included in the sector. This was performed to help explain the SAM and such a simple approach would not be appropriate in economic analysis.



Jack is an economist at the Fraser of Allander Institute.

Gioele is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Economics, University of Strathclyde.

Grant Allan is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Economics. Grant has research interests in applied regional economic analysis and modelling, particularly in the areas of energy and tourism.