The Chart That Shows Why Independence Could Have Been A Disaster For Scotland

This chart shows why demographers at least will be breathing much easier after Scottish voters rejected independence in the referendum on Thursday. It demonstrates the remarkable fact that over the past century the population of Scotland has barely growth, hovering at around 5 million from 1920 to the present day.

Scotland birth rateNational Records of ScotlandScotland’s birth rate has been falling.

The main drivers of this trend has been a combination of the country’s falling birth rate and emigration to the rest of the UK. If these trends were to have continued an independent Scotland would have had trouble addressing its potential demographic time bomb with the proportion of those aged 75 and over forecast to rise 82% by 2035.

To provide some perspective of just how unusual Scotland’s lack of population growth has been below is a chart of the UK population as a whole from the 1960s:

UK population graphFREDThe UK’s population has risen by over 10 million, or just under double the total population of Scotland, over the past half century.

While demographic concerns are common to many developed countries, the question that pro-independence leaders in Scotland failed to answer over the campaign was how breaking away from the rest of the UK would leave them better able to overcome this problem. Indeed if the current trends had continued they looked set to become considerably worse in the event of a Yes vote.

With the independence question now seemingly resolved for a generation, many economists will be glad that we won’t have to find out.

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