The modest contribution of Sex & Drugs & Rock’n’Roll to UK GDP

My hero, the late great Ian Dury, memorably sang about the unholy trinity of sex and drugs and rock’n’roll, to great popular acclaim. As he sang:

“Sex and drugs and rock and roll Are very good indeed”

Good, we now know, for the UK economy, provided you are willing to ignore the legal and moral dimensions when calculating GDP. As ever PRIME is keen to get to the bottom of things, and smoke out the hidden implications.

We learn, thanks to the detailed spreadsheet calculations of the Office for National Statistics, that the estimated value of illegal drugs plus prostitution to UK GDP (expenditure approach) at 2009 current prices is £9.7 billion.

This breaks down as follows*:

  • Prostitution: £5,270m
  • Drugs: Cannabis £828m, other drugs
  • Other drugs: £3,602m
  • Total Sex + drugs = £9.7 bn.

But what about rock’n’roll?

This is of course included in existing GDP calculations, though possibly to be found in different service industry categories. From Music Week  we find that the total UK music industry in 2012 was worth £3.5 billion, broken down as follows:

Music industry
Music industry

Another publication, Adding Up the UK Music Industry 2011, gives a figure of £3.8 billion.

But what proportion of the whole music industry is attributable to rock’n’roll as against other musical genres?  Based on in-depth research, with complex spreadsheet datasets, which we hope one day to post on-line as a technical annex, we feel that 50% is a fair estimate; we then need to account for some intermediate consumption, and rebase to 2009 to equate to the sex and drugs stats. Our estimate, taking all these factors into account, is £1.8 bn.

Therefore, the total Gross Value Added of Sex and Drugs and Rock’n’Roll, on the above basis, is £9.7 bn (S + D)+ £1.8 bn (R + R)= £11.5bn (S + D + R + R).**

This comes roughly  to a not very spectacular 0.7% of GDP, a disappointingly modest outcome for so much vibrant entrepreneurial activity and market-driven consumerism.  Britons, you can do better. George Osborne expects you to play your full part in ensuring a truly balanced recovery.

**We can also propose a fundamental law that (S + D) >(R + R) in any society.

*Technical Annex A - extract from ONS's spreadsheet:

sex and drugs GDP
sex and drugs GDP