'Too wee, too poor, too stupid' (Union)

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This page is an edited version of a blog article by Neil Lovat, who is invited to submit it as a hard-text contribution (with changes, if wished). The page has been locked, to give him time to consider this.

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 is the cause of the deficit gap between an independent Scotland and a Scotland within the UK.

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 people per hectare, which is 100 sq.km.; and 4.3% of the population live in "very remote" areas comprising 47.3% of Scotland's total land area. The economic cost of this sparse population is currently shared with the UK, but with independence these costs would produce a deficit gap.