SCOTLAND has a choice to make between settling for a state of “relative dependence and helplessness” within the UK or shaping its own future with independence, according to a new analysis.

Leading economic experts say the key to creating a prosperous and thriving society is individuals having "agency" – which includes believing they have control over decisions in their life and optimism for the future.

They warn Scotland is currently closer to the opposite, which is described as a state of “helplessness”.

However the paper says independence could help to “rapidly” move Scotland from a state of "helplessness" to a society of "agency".

The analysis is the first to be published from The Bottom Line project, which launches today with the aim of adding to the independence debate.

READ MORE: ‘Independence first’ or is radical the way to go?

The initiative involves David Simpson, founding director of the Fraser of Allander Institute at Strathclyde University, Graeme Blackett, who was economic adviser to the SNP Growth Commission and former SNP MP and Treasury spokesperson Roger Mullin.

The National: Former SNP MP Roger Mullin Former SNP MP Roger Mullin (Image: Newsquest)

As evidence of Scotland’s current state, it points to statistics such as a low level of business start-ups and higher levels of alcohol-related, suspected suicide and drugs-related deaths.

“Whether a society is characterised by helplessness or agency, the feelings and behaviours that result are contagious,” the paper states.

“Individuals who recognise that they have agency spread that recognition in the families and communities, in the organisations they work in and interact with and in society more generally.

“Similarly a society characterised by agency encourages individuals, families, communities and organisations to recognise that they have agency and take control of their lives.”

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But the analysis says the “centralised political structure” of the UK does not lend itself to high levels of individual and community agency.

“The UK is unusual in its centralisation,” it states. “Not only is government centralised in London, but the UK’s main media, business, legal and financial organisations are all concentrated in London.

“This hyper-centralisation … is not a static process and has increased over time.

“For example, there has been a growing trend for larger companies to base headquarters functions in London, close to the financial markets and consolidation in several industries (for example, banking and other financial services) which has further increased centralisation.”

It adds: “Whilst there has been some devolution of political power, including the establishment of the devolved Scottish Parliament in 1999, the UK’s centre of political gravity has remained in London, where the main financial decision making takes place.”

The experts say political independence would provide a “spark” and be the starting point for a process that “moves Scotland from a state of helplessness to a society of agency”.

They argue this could happen rapidly but warn against “replicating” having a state and economy centralised in London with one centralised in Edinburgh, saying decisions should be made as locally as possible.

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“Scotland has a choice to make,” the paper concludes. “It can settle for a state of relative dependency and helplessness, hoping that the UK can find a way to reverse its decline.

“Or it can embrace the idea of agency and take responsibility for shaping a new future, emulating what has been achieved in other small advanced economies, like Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Switzerland and the Netherland.”