Prospects For Scotland’s Population Not Much Affected By Brexit


European Union, Migration Trends, Population

Scottish Government admits that Scotland’s population would continue to grow even if EU migration were reduced to half its current level

The Scottish Government has admitted that Scotland’s population would grow by 5% (or around 270,000) between 2014 and 2039 even if EU net migration were reduced to half its present level (currently 8,000-9,000 each year).

The admission is made in the Brexit options document ‘Scotland’s place in Europe’, which suggests that Scotland should remain a member of the Single Market even when the rest of the UK leaves the European Union.

The finding undermines claims that free movement for European citizens is essential for Scotland in order to ensure continued healthy population growth. It also broadly confirms previous Migration Watch UK research.

The Scottish Government paper also claims that if EU migration to Scotland were reduced to zero after Brexit, the population would only grow by 3% until 2039.

Under this scenario, the report says, ‘the number of people aged 16-64 in Scotland would be projected to fall by 9%, against a rise of 53% in those aged 65 and over – indicating a likely significant reduction in the size of the workforce and a likely increase in the dependency ratio’.

All serious studies as well as academics from the LSE and indeed the UN, have noted that immigration is not a solution to an ageing population as migrants age themselves and continually increasing inflows would be needed indefinitely to sustain any particular ratio..

Furthermore it is quite wrong to suggest that post-Brexit migration restrictions would stop all inflows of European citizens into Scotland. Even if EU migration into lower-paid work were reduced, work permits would be available for highly-skilled roles. Migration Watch UK has proposed that, post-Brexit, visa free access should continue for EU students, business visitors, tourists, the self-sufficient and genuine marriage.

Finally, the Scottish Government paper quotes National Records of Scotland (NRS) as saying that 90% of population growth until 2024 will be the result of migration.

However, it fails to mention the NRS’s explanation that just 57 per cent of this is projected to be a result of international migration, while 32% of the projected population growth by 2024 would stem from net migration to Scotland from other parts of the UK.

Nor does the report mention that around 40,000 people leave Scotland for other parts of the UK each year. The Scottish Government might, therefore, focus their efforts on persuading young people who have been educated in Scotland, both UK and non-UK born, to remain there in their later working lives.

This would be consistent with the views of the majority of Scots who say that international net migration is currently too high and should be reduced (e.g. see YouGov poll),

20th December 2016

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