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Harvard expert Adam Price: Catalonia “would have done better” as an independent state

Adam Price, the former Member of Westminster Parliament and Harvard University expert, believes it “would be very difficult” to argue that an independent Catalan state would not be prosperous. In fact, he thinks Catalonia “would have done better” without being part of Spain. Price is an acclaimed economist and political expert and the author of a report written for Harvard University on the economic potential of smaller countries. In the report Price examines how smaller European economies have a higher chance of gaining economic success than larger ones. Studying small European nations, Price believes, without a doubt, that an independent Catalonia would have huge potential in the long run. However, he also stresses that “transition cost” are another debate.

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28 January 2015 10:37 PM

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ACN / Nisse Laiho-Murdoch

London (ACN).- Adam Price, most notably known for his roles as a former Member of Westminster Parliament and Harvard University expert, explains that it “would be very difficult” to state that an independent Catalan state would not be economically prosperous. In fact, he thinks Catalonia “would have done better” without being part of Spain. The acclaimed Welsh economist and political expert is also the author of a report written for Harvard University on the economic potential of smaller countries. Price’s report examines small European economies and how they have a higher chance of gaining economic advantage over larger ones. In the study on small European nations, Price states that he is confident that an independent Catalonia would have huge economic potential in the long run. However, he also stresses that “transition cost” are another debate.


Price currently works for the British innovation charity NESTA whose mission is “to help people and organisations bring great ideas to life”. He is a strong believer in the strength and prosperity of small countries arguing that they tend to generate “a fertile environment for innovation”. In an interview with ACN, Price explained that as smaller nations tend to be “more flexible” regarding their economy they are also “able to respond to crisis quicker”. In addition to this, he explained that economies the size of Catalonia tend to adapt to changes in economies around them because they are pushed to export “almost in a natural way” since they do not have a large domestic market.

Being small is also a problem regarding some issues

Though Price believes that small states can flourish more, he does, however, underline that this factor can also result in negative outcomes, as a smaller society is more likely to create ties between different economic and social sectors that can result in the creation of corruption. However, it also has positive effects such as a “greater social cohesion” and a more developed “sense of belonging”, which help different sectors of society to work together.

Price explains further that another downside to a small independent nation is that the majority of people may have the tendency to think the same way as their fellow nationals. This can create “a very small and hyper-connected elite”, as happened in Greece, Ireland or Iceland. However, “rigorous and independent media, an independent judiciary and strong universities help to guarantee an honest leadership”, he stressed.

It is “impossible to say” an independent Catalonia would be poor

Despite these challenges, the former Westminster MP for Plaid Cymru believes that it is “impossible to say” an independent Catalonia “would be poor”. As a people, he believes Catalans have “great assets” including a highly skilled and qualified population. “This would not disappear with independence”, he argues given that change can create new opportunities that, for an entrepreneurial population, cannot be undermined. The cost of a transition to an independent country is always significant in the short term but when considering independence it is vital to look at things in the medium and long run, he argues. A country that can design its own economic policies according to its challenges and opportunities is more likely to flourish than one with a large, centralised economy, the Harvard expert believes.

Despite his strong belief in the strength of an independent Catalan economy, Price does, however, believe that the independence of a country should not be taken lightly. Such a big decision should be up to each individual’s judgment but Price stresses the importance of looking at both long term and short term results when choosing a side. Catalans should think whether they are ready to take some risks in the short term in order to have greater possibilities later on.

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  • Adam Price, interviewed by ACN (by L. Pous)

  • Adam Price, interviewed by ACN (by L. Pous)