An independent Scotland’s HDI would be higher than the UK’s

European Union

A new report puts an independent Scotland higher up the human development index table than the rest of the UK.

The report, ‘The Success of Small Countries’ by the Credit Suisse Research Institute, puts Scotland in 26th place with a score of 0.887. The United Kingdom currently stands at 32nd place with a score of 0.875, according to the report.

Interestingly, the ‘United Kingdom (ex-Scotland)’ comes in 34th with a score of 0.871. If these figures are to be believed then the rump United Kingdom (rUK) would fall down the table, whereas Scotland would get a higher place than the United Kingdom, both before and after.

However, it is important to note that for Scotland they are ‘Accounting for a geographical share of North Sea oil production’, something which could affect the figures.

But what is HDI exactly and what does this mean? Unlike GDP, which is a very narrow view on how successful a country is as it only concentrates on economic growth, HDI looks at other factors that account for Human Development.

As well as income in different countries, the index also looks at life expectancy and education, which allows economists to look at the bigger picture, rather than solely looking at economic growth, which could hide other factors such as falling life expectancy and weakening standards in education.

This means that an independent Scotland would arguably outperform the rest of the UK in terms of its HDI, and will most likely be used by the Yes campaign as another argument for Scottish independence.

Interestingly, an independent Catalonia would be 22nd, compared with Spain without Catalonia in 30th place, and Spain with Catalonia in 27th place. However, in terms of independence movements in North America, Quebec comes in 13th place, behind the entirety of Canada in 11th place.

At the top of the table comes Norway, then Australia then the United States, followed by the Netherlands then Germany.

With two days until the much-anticipated debate between Alistair Darling, Better Together leader, and Alex Salmond, First Minister, the argument that an independent Scotland will be better placed than the UK in terms of human development will most likely be used by those in favour of independence. But whether the argument will get through or not will not be seen until the 18th of September when Scots go to the polls.

In other developments this week in the referendum debate, according to the Observer, Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s Deputy First Minister, argued that the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow will result in a ‘feelgood factor’ across Scotland. This could affect the result.

Additionally, in the online survey by Opinium between 29th July and 1st August, a total of 1,979 people were asked if the games in Glasgow would have any effect on the outcome of the Scottish referendum. Some 20% said they would make a ‘yes’ vote more likely and 12% said that it would make the opposite more likely.

Furthermore, in a boost for ‘Better Together’ campaigners, according to the Telegraph a previous SNP Lord Provost, Alex Murray, wrote a letter to Alex Salmond asking him not to go for independence and instead insist on a federal United Kingdom, a policy supported by the Scottish Liberal Democrats. The reasons he cited for this were that the SNP have no plan B on currency and a lack of certainty of Scotland's future in the EU.

On Tuesday, Alex Salmond will debate Alistair Darling, a programme which will be closely watched by all interested in Scotland’s future. The debate will begin with the release of an exclusive poll on Scotland’s future.

But whether the debate itself will have any impact on the result in 45 days time is yet to be seen.