The deglobalisation of Scotland

Following ONS definitions, the official Scottish Executive figures give public sector employment in Scotland as 580,000 in 2012, having fallen slightly from its peak of 600,000 in 2009 (see Table 1). The 2012 figure represents 23.5 per cent of the total employed population. But there is good reason to suppose that these figures are a considerable underestimate given the amount of out-sourcing and publicly-funded but ‘non-state’ employment. Buchanan et al. suggest that adjusting for these boundary problems would inflate the figure for Scotland (for 2007) by almost a third, from the official figure of 580,000 (including financial institutions) to 772,000. As it happens, the official 2012 figure is the same as the official figure for 2007,  so adjusting the later figure in the same proportion would suggest again a total of 772,000, 31 per cent of the total in employment. These figures seem broadly compatible with those provided by the Centre for Cities on a city basis, which give the Dundee figure as 38 per cent and that for Glasgow as 30 per cent.

This growth of public sector employment is part of the process of de-globalisation evident in Scotland as an accompaniment to de-industrialisation.

That is from Jim Tomlinson, there is more here, via


So the assumption is that these "functions", whatever they are, MUST be replaced. If so that's dumb.

Does Scotland matter? Or is it just another dumpster fire for wink voyeurists, like Ray Rice and sports media?

Ray Rice you say? That's so last week. This week's outrage is all about a bloody Kent State sweater.

At what point do we start using terms such as 'Socialism with capitalist characteristics"?

You mean "a human face," right?

Well, one could use a term coined in the mid-19th century - 'social democracy.' There are a couple of generations of practice in various places (Germany, Scandinavia, the Netherlands, Austria), so it isn't as if the term should be all that obscure.

Some interesting facts but not much in the way of thinking. Scotland's tale is a classic story of an energy exporter: costs rose, manufacturing became less competitive, manufacturing employment dropped (though also partly because manufacturing productivity increased, which is a different, good thing), private and public services employment rose, imports of non-energy goods rose.

The story wasn't really changed much by the fact that public energy revenues were channeled through the UK budget and mingled with those of taxes on the London financial sector, the sharing out of which across the UK has a similar effect to energy exports.

However, Scotland is becoming rapidly less of an energy exporter, and rapidly more dependent on the sharing-out of London taxes across the UK. To some extent the Scottish independence movement shows how politics moves so much more slowly than economics: the romantics who think Scotland would be better off are at best out of date. To some extent the Scottish independence movement boils down to a threat and a shake-down: what'll you give us or else we'll really hurt you, oh an umm, also ourselves.

If Scotland does accidentally become independent, then and only then we'll see if it really deglobalizes. Deglobalizing would mean reviving manufacturing to substitute for the imports that have traditionally been paid for from energy exports and shared-out London taxes, and/or reducing imports without substituting and thus reducing living standards. I think some of the latter would be inevitable but the former, a revival of manufacturing for the domestic market, seems far-fetched.

"To some extent the Scottish independence movement boils down to a threat and a shake-down: what’ll you give us or else we’ll really hurt you, oh an umm, also ourselves."

Considering we went through the debt ceiling shutdown around this time last year, we're not really in any position to throw stones.

Wouldn't Scottish Independence lead to Scotland "reglobalizing" (what a horrible word) like say other small European states? Not having the option of falling back on London, the Scots would have to open themselves up to the Continent.

So yes to an independent more cosmopolitan Scotland, but it will be an uncomfortable next 5 to 10 years.

It's not a question of IF. Scotland WILL become independent. The preparations for independence have already gone so far that it's obvious what the Scottish government plans for after 18 September 2014, regardless of the referendum result:

Andreas Moser: I was about to comment on how out of touch you were, but I went and read the link first. Well played, sir.

The percentage of government jobs in Scotland is very little different from Sweden, say or some other nordic countries. It's high largely because healthcare is part of the state sector.
You can reasonably argue that this high state employment is one way a small open economy can provide insurance to its citizens agains external shocks. It is a sign of globalization and not its converse.

Public services in Scotland are enviable, much better than here. A lot of the push for independence comes from disgust with Thatcherism and a desire to regain the higher level of services of the past. And yes, most Scots like the NHS and the private rail system though inferior to the previous public system is vastly better than anything in the US. I spent the summer there (first visit) and was tempted to stay. Even the food and weather was much better than I had been led to believe.

Yet Glasgow has the lowest life expectancy in the UK, and Scotland does notably worse than England on these measures.

But that's largely a lifestyle issue rather than health services problem, isn't it?

"The evil oppressors made us booze and smoke?"

I'll take that as a yes to my question.

Would you by any chance have any data to back that up? Do the Scots, and Welsh, eat and behave so much more unhealthily than the English?

Google "haggis."

In order to form a government in the UK, a single party or coalition needs 326 seats. The Tories won only 307 seats in the last election and were forced to join a coalition with the Liberal Democrats (57 seats). Labour won only 262 seats.

The two left of center parties could only cobble together 319 seats, just 7 seats shy of a working majority. If Labour had performed just a tiny bit better, they could have secured the extra handful of seats required to form of working majority.

A tiny change in the election, less than a percentage point swing in turnout in a few constituencies, and this entire referendum could have been avoided.

If Scotland leaves the UK, I'll be blaming Gordon Brown, the last Scottish PM of the former United Kingdom.

I realise this is an economics-driven site, but the decision about "independence" (in quotes because it's not really, if it succeeds all it does is replace rule from London, itself ruled from Brussels, by rule from ....... Brussels) is an emotional one, not one which weighs various tax and economic factors, as it always is.

It's true that the decision is often influenced by other factors; in the end I suppose it comes down to whether you believe that the Founding Fathers were motivated by nothing more than economic self-interest or the soldiers who fought for the Confederacy by nothing more than the welfare of the plantation-owners (no, this isn't a racist give-away).

People don't like being ruled by other, different, people - not at the national level & not at the local level - doesn't seem like a difficult concept to grasp but it clearly is, hard to see why - individuals demonstrate it all over the world every day in their decisions about where to live and what to do about it.

The mistake the nationalists are making in Scotland is in thinking that "independence" will change anything. They sold themselves for English gold in 1707 and, if successful this week, will sell themselves again for European gold.

Isn't the army of government contractors [my neighbors in NoVa] not counted as government employment in the US of A, either? Or is it merely the Scots who use cleansed numbers? IIRC, contractors would be excluded everywhere. Anybody know for sure?

Most of the other countries in the industrial world do not use private contractors in such quantitities as the U.S. Private prisons are an example, as is the outsourcing of many routine military functions. Charter schools would be another case of something which is uncommon in most industrial societies.

It is suspicious that Federal government employee employment in the USA has been flat while state and local government employment has been rising since the 1960s. Blame it on gov't contractors.

There is a lot of nuance here, what with potential contracting out of work and the how we should count growth in higher ed jobs (since they are now largely funding by families and loans), but look at this chart of state employment over time. US population was about 180 million in 1960. The growth does not seem to be very high to me, especially if you discount the cost of higher ed employees. The number of non-ed FTEs is flat since the early 90s, while total population has grown substantially.

That is why it is a not very helpful way to look at size of government. People will argue about number of employees vs number of contractors, then argue about whether it makes sense to use contractors for flexibility and lower cost, then argue about why employees (or contractors) make too damn much money, then argue about their pay in relation to their expertise. It's a rabbit hole.

Actually, a money pit. To use the charter school movement, it means taking public funds, providing those funds to private entities, and allowing the private entities to engage in a number of activities that are forbidden to government institutions (such as direct lobbying for an increase in charter school budgets, or providing a religious framework to their teaching) - all at taxpayer expense. But in private hands of charter school owners, thus making the process completely acceptable to the sort of people that hate unions and that pesky separation of church and state in the U.S.

'The school’s deep partnership with the faith-based group raises questions about how a publicly financed charter school can comply with the constitutionally mandated separation of church and state, especially when both groups share some leaders.

But officials with the nonprofit By the Hand Club for Kids, and with the charter school group, Chicago Education Partnership, said they won’t cross any lines, and children and parents can have a say if they want to be involved in religious classes.

“We want to be clear, transparent, open and make sure everyone realizes that we understand the faith-based part of things doesn’t enter into the school day,” said Michael Rogers, executive director of Chicago Education Partnership and a leader at By the Hand. “It’s only into the after-school hours, and kids can opt out.”'

Anyone wondering how long it will be before the voluntary morning prayer in the charter school classroom arrives, though since the prayer starts at say 7:55am, while school officially starts at 8am, it is just as acceptable as after school faith based activities?

For example, in the middle of the expensive San Fernando Valley, the Birmingham Community Charter High School has an 80 acre campus. The land alone would be some worth somewhere around $100 million, but it was handed over to charter operators.

The Imam Gulen from Turkey understands that much money can be made off charter schools, but do Americans?

By all means the benighted US should strive to be more like enlightened Germany, where the government doesn't fund any church related activities at all.


Interesting question, considering that Germany is currently ruled by a coalition of the Christian Democratic Union, the Christian Social Union, and the Social Democratic Party. Admittedly, in East Germany, where much of the population is non-religious, the attempt to mandate 'voluntary' religious instruction in public schools (as is common in Germany, apart from the two specifically exempted Hanse city-states) was only narrowly averted. A basic overview of the demographics can be found here -

The fact is that the United States has a proud heritage of religious freedom by separating church and state, while Germany, like many European countries, has a bloody and frankly disgusting history of sectarian warfare over centuries.

Having the 1st Amendment of the American Constitution be reduced to even modern German standards would be a horrible outcome for what has been one of the world's finest examples of how to avoid theocratic structures from using the public purse to further their own ends.

But all good things come to end, it seems. And if giving taxpayer money directly to a school which includes an overt religious component is not 'an establishment of religion,' well it isn't as several other parts of the Constitution aren't cadavers at this point (the absolute Constitutional prohibition against torture coming instantly to mind).

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