Migration in Scotland

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Co-financed by the European Fund for the Integration of Third Country Nationals

2. Migration in Scotland

2.4 The benefits of migration

Migration provides many benefits to Scotland.  Scotland has an ageing population, and needs people of working age to support this.  People of working age contribute to the economy both through paying taxes, and by buying goods and services locally.  They can support local services – such as schools or local shops - through using these in areas of population decline.  Migrants who stay in Scotland and have children can help further through helping to boost the population.

Migration can also help to fill gaps in the labour market.  Migrants to Scotland are largely of working age and skilled.  Half of all migrants aged 16 and above have at least degree level qualifications. This compares to a quarter of the population as a whole.

Migration can be of particular value in areas where the working age population is declining.  For example, new families in an area can help sustain local schools and health services, fill skills gaps, build new businesses and breathe new life into communities.

Migration can also increase diversity, raise awareness of different cultures and countries, and help to build positive relations between communities. Chapter Six of this toolkit provides more information on how local authorities and their community planning partners can help to realise these benefits. 

The Scottish Government recognises that healthy population growth is important for Scotland’s economy, and that one of the main contributors to population growth in Scotland is migrants choosing to live and work in Scotland.  It wants to do more to encourage and attract people to build their lives and careers within Scotland.

“[The] data shows our migrant population is well educated, works hard, is in good health and has much to offer our economy and society.  Our migrants are typically younger than the Scottish population as a whole, and they are just as likely to be economically active as the rest of Scotland.  This data busts many of the misconceptions that exist about the impact and contribution of migrants in Scotland. It demonstrates that most of our migrants are here to study, work and contribute.”

(Minister for Europe and International Development, March 2015)