This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 12th (it came out in 2015), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

If you are a user of my textbook and would like to suggest a blog post idea, please email me at: john.weeks@sdsu.edu

Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Demographics of Scottish Independence--Scots Vote No

My wife and I are in London at the moment, and the news is alive with discussion about this Thursday's vote in Scotland about whether or not Scotland should break away from the United Kingdom. Recent polls in Scotland have suggested a last-minute increase in support for Scotland's independence, and this has led U.K. government officials, in particular, to scramble to combat this trend. However, my first response to polling results is to check with Nate Silver and his fivethirtyeight website. They did not disappoint, with an interesting analysis by Mona Chalabi pointing out that a substantial fraction of eligible voters in Scotland have already voted by mail and by law their vote cannot be reported ahead of the vote by polling agencies because it would amount to a pre-vote exit poll and could influence other voters. But, the demographics of mail voters provide interesting information. In general, the younger a person is, the more likely they are to support independence (youthful rebelliousness?), as shown in the chart below. At the same time, the older a person is, the more likely they are to vote by mail. So, we can infer that the already cast mail votes are predominantly "no" votes and these responses are not reflected in the public opinion polls.
I conducted my own private poll on the issue, asking the taxi driver who took us from Heathrow to our hotel what he thought would happen. He was adamant that the result would be a majority "no" vote. We'll find out on Thursday.

UPDATE--THE SCOTS DID INDEED VOTE NO TO INDEPENDENCE BY A VOTE OF 55% SAYING NO AND 45% VOTING YES.


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