Difference between revisions of "'Too wee, too poor, too stupid' (Union)"

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Revision as of 16:22, 3 August 2019

This page is an edited version of a blog article by Neil Lovatt, who is invited to change it if wished.

Analysis of GERS (Scotland's official national accounts, prepared and approved by the UK and Scottish Governments) shows that Scotland would be worse off under independence than it would staying in the UK. It does not show that Scotland could not be independent, but it does mean that politically hard choices would be necessary. This is not because Scotland is "wee": its land area is 60% that of England's, and its coastline is 5 times as long. But this large land area has a population of only 5.3m, compared with England's population of 54.3m, so Scotland is too big for its population.

Economic growth is driven by urbanisation (see chart), and small countries are more urbanised because their smaller land area means that populations must be close to urban centers. Because they are more urbanised, small countries can provide public services - transport, healthcare, welfare, crime prevention - more cheaply. In the City of London, for example, a single police officer covering 1 sq. km. serves 2691 people, whereas in Lochaber he would need to cover 625 sq. km. to serve that many people. Because Scotland's population is spread over a wide area, Scotland needs to spend more than England to provide the same level of public services. This higher spend means that Scotland always has a higher deficit, proportional to population, than the UK as a whole[Source?].

Overall, Scotland has 67 people per sq. km., compared to the UK's 265. But in rural Scotland, the situation is worse, because Scotland's population is concentrated in the central belt. 9.2% of the population live in areas with a population density of 0.1 persons per hectare, and a hectare is 100 sq.km. This means that 10 people occupy 1,000 sq.km. of land. There are 496,000 people in Scotland in these under-populated areas, and they occupy 496,000,000 sq.km., or 3 times the total world land area - that's how spread out we are! The UK currently pays the higher cost arising from this sparse population[Source?], so that Scotland does not have a deficit{{Src}, but with independence these costs would produce a deficit[Source?], and serious economic loss.