Date lodged: 21 September 2018
To ask the Scottish Government what action it is taking to increase population growth, other than through migration.
Answered by: Ben Macpherson 4 October 2018
More people have moved to Scotland from the rest of the UK than have moved in the other direction for every year since the year to mid-2001. In the past year, net migration from the rest of the UK to Scotland increased from +8,800 in the year to mid-2016 to +10,500 in the year to mid-2017.
However Scotland, like many developed Western countries, is aging rapidly, and does not have enough people of working age to replace those leaving the labour market as they grow older. Without more working age people there will be additional pressure on public services and implications on taxation revenue.
Our Programme for Government set out our ambitious plans to deliver for people, communities and businesses across Scotland. We want Scotland to be the best place in the world to grow up and ensure every child has an equal chance to succeed. We are proud of the support that we offer to older people. However, policy interventions that support children and prolong life expectancy do not of course immediately increase the working age population. The only short-to-medium term solutions to growing the working age population are increasing inward migration or raising the state pension age. The Scottish Government does not support raising the state pension age.
With all of our population increase to come from migration over the next 25 years, migration is absolutely critical to Scotland’s future prosperity. Migrants tend to be younger than the rest of the population and more likely to be of working and child bearing age, and therefore are increasingly important in strengthening the overall population.