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Economy / Jobs

Chart: Struggling Scottish cities were more likely to vote for independence than affluent ones

In the highly likely event that you’ve been locked in a cupboard without Wi-Fi for the last eight hours, you may have missed the news that Scotland has said no to independence. Around 55 per cent of the voters elected to remain within the United Kingdom, compared to just 45 per cent that wanted to leave.

What’s interesting about this result is the way the figures vary by region. Look at this map. Green areas had a majority for yes; red ones a majority for no. It’s a little misleading, because it looks like a landslide. In fact support for independence in different council areas varied between 32 and 58 per cent: even in the deepest, reddest areas, there are a lot of Yes voters.

Those green areas also contain a lot more people than the sparsely populated Highlands. They cover two of Scotland’s four major cities, Glasgow and Dundee, the latter of which was the most pro-independence region in the entire country. The western vale of “Yes” also includes West Dunbartonshire and North Lanarkshire, both of which contain swathes of Glasgow suburbia.

Why these two cities should be so pro-independence while Aberdeen and Edinburgh were not is a complicated question – but the economic data may provide some clues.

The two Yes cities have consistently suffered unemployment rates well above the national average. And that gap seems to have widened during the recent recession:

Those who are in work have seen wages lag behind:

Dundee in particular seems to be struggling. Wages lag behind those in Glasgow, and even in 2013 unemployment was still rising. That’s probably due in part to the relatively poor quality of the jobs the city has to offer:

It’d be too simplistic to credit an entire city’s views on government and national identity to its economic situation, of course: all sorts of other factors, political and social, will come into play, too.

Nonetheless, it seems unlikely to be a coincidence that the residents of vibrant Edinburgh and oil-rich Aberdeen are relatively happy with the status quo – while those of poorer, ex-industrial cities aren’t.

Map of referendum results courtesy of Sceptre, via Wikimedia Commons.
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