The people of Scotland decide Thursday whether national pride outweighs economic risk.
The vote on independence is taking place without any of the usual factors that drive the dissolution of great nations: no war, no acute economic crisis, no raging territorial dispute. In fact, the situation is quite the opposite: peace, a slowly recovering economy and a central government in London that promises to grant more powers over taxing and spending to the Scottish Parliament.
The Scots cannot claim they have not been warned about the uncertain and even dire economic consequences of splitting from the United Kingdom, on issues like the currency, investment, pensions and declining energy revenues from the North Sea.
Economists normally as ideologically disparate and disputatious as Alan Greenspan, Paul Krugman, Adam S. Posen and Niall Ferguson all have predicted a negative economic outlook for an independent Scotland, while expressing anxiety, too, about the impact of such uncertainty on the larger European and global economies.
Those warnings, echoed by many British leaders and business executives, and traditional feelings of connection and kinship on this island, may narrowly win the day.
But half of Scots, give or take a few percentage points, are expected to vote for independence anyway. Some do not believe the negative forecasts, calling them "fear-mongering." Some say they resent the sense that an outside elite is patronizing them or doubting their capacity. And many will vote yes for other reasons — to feel responsible for their own fate and to build, or rebuild, what they hope will be a fairer, less unequal country of their own, for better or worse.
Alyn Smith, a pro-independence Scottish member of the European Parliament and a former corporate lawyer, said that the British government did what was best for the United Kingdom, not necessarily for Scotland. "The U.K. does not incentivize how to grow the Scottish economy, but the U.K. economy," he said.
Those opposed to independence, called the "Better Together" campaign, have focused so much on the potentially negative effects of independence that many Scots seem to have simply stopped listening, or decided that they prefer the reassurances of Alex Salmond, the leader of the independence movement. Mr. Salmond maintains that Scotland can stand on its own, that the British government is "bluffing"when it says it has ruled out a currency union, and that the European Union is exaggerating the difficulties Scotland would face in joining the bloc as a new member.
"The no campaign has been prophesying that the sky will fall for so long that it's just all noise and not credible anymore," Mr. Smith said.
There is resentment, too, among independence supporters at what is seen as dismissive attitudes of British elites. They point to an appearance in Scotland in February by the chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, when he declared that it would be impossible for Britain to have a currency union with an independent Scotland — but took no questions on the topic, one of the most important of the campaign.