Independent Scotland must embrace migration policy

Scotland's ageing population will be a major concern in an independent Scotland. Picture: TSPL
Scotland's ageing population will be a major concern in an independent Scotland. Picture: TSPL
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An INDEPENDENT Scotland would need to embrace migration opportunities to help balance the gulf between the number of working people and a growing ageing population, a think tank has warned.

Scotland’s working age population in 2037 is expected to be 3.5 per cent smaller than it was in 2013 – the largest percentage fall of any UK nation – and well below England, which is due to grow by 5 per cent, according to a report from the International Longevity Centre-UK.

By 2035 the percentage of the population aged over 75 in England and Wales will be 12 per cent, while in Scotland it will be 13 per cent.

The group, which investigates longevity, ageing and population change, warned an ageing population may be “difficult” for an independent Scotland to fund as the average age in Scotland will rise to 43 years in 2037, up from the current age of 41.5 years, putting further financial strain on the welfare system.

“If Scotland does vote ‘Yes’ to independence there could be an opportunity to address the balance in demographics through migration policy that would boost the number of working age people,” said the report.

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It said that higher spend per head on elderly care north of the Border would put pressure on finances.

The study found although the average Scottish man currently has a life expectancy at birth of 76 and a woman of 81, the low life expectancies in poverty stricken areas such as some parts of Glasgow, mean that even those who live longer are not likely to be as healthy for that time. As a result, more people would be taken out of the workforce early.

It warned that of the 32 council areas in Scotland, 31 per cent have an average age of onset of disability below 50.