Scots more likely to see UK as unequal, research suggests

The British Social Attitudes survey found 73% of people in Scotland believe the distribution of income in the UK is unequal.

Scots more likely to see UK as unequal, research suggests mrdoomits via IStock
In comparison, 53% of people in Norway, 51% in Denmark and 39% in Finland believe their society is broadly equal.

People living in Scotland are more likely than those south of the border to say the distribution of income is unfair, new research suggests.

The British Social Attitudes survey found 73% of people in Scotland believe the distribution of income in the UK is unequal, compared to 65% in England.

A further 25% of people in Scotland said they believe they live in an unequal society – with 37% saying they are dissatisfied with government attempts to reduce inequality, compared to 17% and 29% respectively in England.

Dr Chris Deeming, a senior lecturer at Strathclyde University, said: “There is a greater concern about social justice in Scotland than in England, though perhaps the difference is of degree rather than of kind.

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“Certainly, attitudes towards inequality north of the border do not, at present at least, match the profile of Nordic social attitudes.

“Even so, thanks to the higher level of inequality in Britain, people in Scotland are most dissatisfied of all with government progress tackling inequality.”

The survey compared responses from the UK to those in Nordic countries, finding Scotland’s attitudes towards inequality fell short of the countries on the other side of the North Sea.

For example, the Nordic response to being asked about their feelings on government efforts to tackle inequality saw 21%, 18% and 11% of people in Norway, Finland and Denmark say they are dissatisfied.

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While 53% of people in Norway, 51% in Denmark and 39% in Finland believe their society is broadly equal.

Professor Sir John Curtice, polling expert and senior fellow at the National Centre for Social Research, said: “There has long been a debate north of the border between those who claim that the values of people in Scotland are similar to those of people in England, and those who argue that Scotland is similar to outlook to the Nordic countries.

“This analysis suggests that, when it comes to attitudes to inequality at least, Scotland lies somewhere in between – and that perhaps both sides in this debate are at risk of exaggerating their case.”