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Economic optimism falls when Scots consider independence

Published:29 February 2012
Fieldwork:27-29 January 2012
Keywords:Devolution, Economic optimism, Economy, Independence, Personal finance, Referendums, Scotland
(Click on keywords to find related Research)
The prospect of Scotland becoming an independent country leaves the public feeling less optimistic about their personal financial situation and about economic conditions in Scotland, according to our latest poll in the Times.

At the beginning of the survey, we asked respondents about a range of personal and national economic issues and whether they thought they would improve, stay the same or get worse in the next five next years. At the end of the survey we asked respondents what would happen to the same measures if Scotland were to become an independent country. On each measure, optimism fell and pessimism grew once the concept of independence was introduced.

When asked about personal finances 34% thought they would improve in the next five years while 30% thought they would get worse, a net rating of +4%. This net rating fell to -14% when we asked what would happen to personal finances if Scotland were an independent country. When those currently working were asked about their job security in the next five years, there was a net rating of -1%, which grew to -7% when respondents considered what would happen if Scotland were independent.

We found a similar story when we asked about the national consequences of independence. A third of respondents (34%) thought that economic conditions in Scotland would improve in the next five years, compared to 39% who thought they would get worse, a net rating of -5%. This net rating became -11% when we asked about economic conditions if Scotland were to become independent. The public is more optimistic about Scotland’s future standing in the world, with a net rating of +22% in the next five years, though this falls to +9% if Scotland were to become independent.

Analysis of the figures illustrates the extent of that challenge. When we consider the views of those who currently oppose independence we can see overwhelmingly pessimistic views to the consequences of independence. Among this group the net rating for personal finances falls from -4% in the next five years to -58% if Scotland were independent. Similar rises in pessimism can be seen when this group is asked about job security (from -5% to -45%) and economic conditions in Scotland (from -18% to -76%).

Mark Diffley, Research Director at Ipsos MORI Scotland said:
“We know that economic issues are likely to dominate the forthcoming debates over Scotland’s constitutional future. Our latest data shows that levels of economic optimism fall when the public consider the prospect of Scotland becoming independent. This pessimism is particularly evident among those with mortgages living in affluent areas who currently appear more nervous about the economic consequences of independence. It highlights the challenges ahead, especially for supporters of independence, in convincing voters that individuals and the country would be better off in an independent Scotland.”

Download the charts here (PDF)
Download the data tables here (PDF)

Technical Note

  • Results are based on a survey of 1,005 respondents conducted by telephone between 27th January and 29th January 2012.
  • Data are weighted by age, sex and working status using census data, and tenure using SHS 2007-2008 data, and by public-private sector employment by Scottish Government Quarterly Public Sector Series data.
  • An asterisk (*) indicates a percentage of less than 0.5% but greater than 0.
  • Where results do not sum to 100, this may be due to multiple responses or computer rounding. 
  • Where the base size is less than 30 the number (N) rather than the percentage of respondents is given.
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Mark Diffley
Mark Diffley

Research Director

Email Tel:+44(0)131 240 3269