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Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire continue to show a net reduction in population from elsewhere in the UK

By David Porter

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People moving from the rest of the UK have boosted the population in Scotland by 137,000 over the past two decades, according to a new report but Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire have suffered from a continuing decline.

The Expert Advisory Group (EAG) on Migration and Population study found the historical trend of Scotland being a nation of net population outflow has been reversed.

Out-migration rates, especially for those in their late 20s and early 30s, have significantly declined over the past decades, indicating an increased likelihood of students from Scotland and the rest of the UK staying in Scotland after their studies.

While most big cities except Edinburgh experienced negative net migration with the rest of the UK in the beginning of this century, those patterns have changed - all cities with the exception of Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire now receive more migrants from the rest of the UK than they lose to the rest of the UK.

Recent migration trends in the Aberdeen region the report claims are largely explained by reduced migration from elsewhere in the UK to the region, due to the decline in the oil and gas industry

Net immigration has also expanded the populations of Argyll and Bute, the Highlands, Dumfries and Galloway, while the continuing difficulties of the north-east have led to higher levels of out-migration for Aberdeen City, Aberdeenshire and Angus than other parts of Scotland.

Migration minister Ben Macpherson.
Migration minister Ben Macpherson.

Migration Minister Ben Macpherson welcomed the report’s findings but warned that Scotland faces population challenges against a backdrop of a record low in the birth rate.

Mr Macpherson said: “This independent report highlights that more people are moving to Scotland from the rest of the UK than are going in the other direction.

"That is welcome news, but we still face significant population challenges set against a backdrop of a record fall in the birth rate.

"People born abroad form a significant portion, one-fifth, of migrants between Scotland and the UK; and they move in both directions.

"As this Expert Advisory Group report highlights, analysis does not support any assertions that international migrants mostly move from Scotland to England – instead, people mostly stay and settle in Scotland.

“All of Scotland’s population growth over the next 25 years is projected to come from migration.

"If EU migration in Scotland falls to half current levels then our working age population would decline by 1 per cent and the proportion of children by 4.5 per cent.

The full report can be found at https://www.gov.scot/isbn/9781839609473

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