DETAILED analysis of where people are coming from and going to throws up some very different results.
Scotland’s population is drifting to the east coast with Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Dundee experiencing the biggest rise in new inhabitants, it has emerged.
Last year, around 9,000 more migrants chose to settle in Scotland rather than leave, with this movement of people concentrating in a handful of places.
By contrast, parts of the rural north and the west coast are continuing to lose residents , particularly the young, either to other parts of Scotland or further afield as they search for work and other opportunities.
It comes as talks are held across Scotland to establish where the 2,000 refugees due to be welcomed in Scotland from Syria will be placed.
Edinburgh has seen the biggest net inflow of people with 3,439 new residents taking root in the city between 2012 and 2014. This was after 28,742 people arrived in the capital - and 22,285 people left.
What is happening now is that you are getting a concentration of people in the east of the country - and a concentration of young people.Professor Robert Wright, University of Strathclyde
Aberdeen also saw a significant increase in population with a net inflow of 1,665 new residents recorded .This was after roughly 12,300 people opted to leave the Granite City.
PEOPLE COME(annual average between 2012-2014)
PERTH AND KINROSS + 904
MIDLOTHIAN + 709
EAST LOTHIAN + 660 people
EAST RENFREWSHIRE +535
FIFE + 520
SOUTH LANARKSHIRE + 517
STIRLING + 516
EAST DUNBARTONSHIRE +425
NORTH LANARKSHIRE +262
SCOTTISH BORDERS +202
WEST DUNBARTONSHIRE -267
ARGYLL AND BUTE -177
EAST AYRSHIRE -92
EILAN SAR -26
Movement of people was also fairly dynamic in surrounding Aberdeenshire, where typically families linked to the oil and gas industry tend to settle given high Aberdeen city house prices and the quest for quieter living.
While over 9,600 new residents arrived in the Shire last year, almost 8,000 left with the 30 to 44 age group pushing the trend. Of those who left Aberdeenshire the majority were aged 29 and under.
By contrast, Glasgow lost 17 people to migration between 2012 and 2014 as slightly more people decided to leave than stay. Around 27,300 people came and went, mostly those in their twenties.
Professor Robert Wright, population expert at University of Strathclyde’s economic department, said: “What is happening now is that you are getting a concentration of people in the east of the country - and a concentration of young people.”
He suggested that the Glasgow trend of fairly balanced entry and exit was chiefly linked to the city’s university population - and that people moved on elsewhere to work.
He said: “The issue with Glasgow is that they have lost a lot of people over time.
“There is no doubt that the city has improved and there is a lot more going on, but there is also more going on in Edinburgh and London and Aberdeen.
“Glasgow is a place of regeneration but it is in my view in long-term decline. They are on this spiral, although it is not as rapid as it was.”
However, the figures also show significant growth in outlying areas such as East Renfrewshire and South Lanarkshire, driven by those aged between 30 and 44.
Professor Wright said the expansion of the European Union in 2004 had been a turning point for Scotland’s population.
He said: “Scotland was basically an exporter of people for a long time.Many many people went abroad or went to reside in England.
“What happened was that the number of people leaving Scotland and the number of people coming to Scotland got closer and closere, and then it balanced.
“Then 10 countries joined the EU in 2004 and we had this positive net migration. There was a great movement of people from these A8 countires.”
In Aberdeen, figures show that most of the 48,198 National Insurance registrations between 2003 and 2014 were from migrant workers from the ascension states, including Czech Republic, Poland and Slovenia.
Birth rates in Aberdeen from EU countries have increased from 44 in 2006 to 356 in 2014 - around 14% of the overall birth rate in the city.
The net migration figures, published by National Records Scotland, include those who have moved from the rest of the UK, the EU and overseas but don’t include asylum seekers or those in the military.
In the case of Glasgow - they don’t include the 2,000 to 6,000 asylum seekers who have been dispersed to the city each year since 2001. Glasgow is the only Scottish local authority to have signed up to the Home Office relocation programme.
The Confederation of Scottish Local Authorities (Cosla) maintains this new group of residents has benefited Glasgow in a number of ways, particularly by boosting the population and making the city’s age profile more youthful.
A report by Cosla’s Strategic Migration Partnership added that some services, including schools, have only been made viable because of the arrival of asylum seekers in areas that were previously in decline.
The presence of asylum seeker children - and indeed migrant children more generally - may have pushed up learning results, the paper added.
Professor Alison Phipps, Professor of Languages and Intercultural Studies at Glasgow University, and co-convener of the Glasgow Refugee, Asylum and Migration Network, said: “The current population flows in Scotland must not affect decision on where the 2,000 Syrian refugees are placed.”
She said it was essential that they must be able to access well developed services already in place, primarily in the bigger cities, with available housing stock a key factor
Discussions are now ongoing with local authorities to establish where needs can be met.
Professor Phipps added: “We must look at where have we got houses, where can we physically relocate people?
“Dundee, for example, has enormous housing shortages but it could need the skills that refugees could bring.
“We also need to look at places where there can be good integration as where settlement does not provoke xenophobia.
“We may need population in the north but is it right to put people with a need for service in place where services are already difficult to provide.
“It is really important that we are practical - and sensible.
“Once we have got people settled, there might be an opportunity, when they are ready, for them to relocate them where there is population need.”