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Demography is destiny. In 1821, England’s population (11m) was less than double that of Ireland (6.8m). Imagine an alternative history in which over the following 200 years, the rapid divergence between the two countries did not occur, so that England’s population might today be about 30m (as opposed to 51m) and Ireland’s 15m (as opposed to 4m, excluding Ulster). Britain would have been a more ordinary European country. It would not have had an empire—or not such a big one—and would not have been so militarily or economically successful. Ireland’s alternative demography would probably have required it to win independence…

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