Why Scotland should stay in the union
Alex Wong, Abingdon School, Oxford
The call for a referendum on Scottish independence has sparked debate on the future of this land of five million people. In 2014, Britain - made up of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland - will face a threat that could dissolve the union's power and economic might.
The Scottish Parliament is divided between Nationalists and Unionists. The former group pushes the idea that Scotland would thrive if it was financially independent.
Unionists suggest that Scotland is better off with England by its side.
A vote on the issue of separation is due in two years' time. The British government is trying to persuade Scots to stay in the union. There are many issues, such as the division of oil revenue, resources and national defence, yet to be resolved.
The Scots would definitely want to claim the oil from the North Sea for themselves. As in every divorce, it's never easy to come up with a separation settlement.
The currency can open another can of worms. These days, it seems suicidal to board the sinking ship of the euro. To stay with the pound would definitely be better for Scotland, but this would be impossible if it chose to leave the union. Scotland would only have itself to depend on.
Currently, Scotland's economy is kept afloat by the bountiful yet unsteady income from North Sea oil and gas. It also receives a share of total British public spending. As a sovereign state, it alone would have the burden of providing its free university education and generous national health care to its people.
In 2008, the British government was left with no option but to bail out the two biggest banks of Scotland. Scotland risks being marginalised, both economically and politically, if its influential neighbour stopped defending it - especially if oil reserves run out.
When it comes to independence, national pride is on the line. Yet it should occur to Scots that the stakes are too high. An independent Scotland would be a small, fragile vessel in the turbulent sea of the global economy.