Scotland population grows largely due to Eastern European immigrants
According to new figures published by the General Register Office (GRO) for Scotland, 27,200 more people arrived in Scotland than departed from it between July 2003 and July 2004. This swelled the nation’s population to 5,078,400.
Taking into account births and deaths, the total increase in the Scottish population was about 21,000, almost ten times the previous year’s increase of just 2,600.
The reason for the steep rise is not officially known, but is thought to be the result of an influx of immigrants from the new EU member states such as Cyprus, the Czech Republic and Poland.
The figures were welcomed by the Executive, although ministers remain concerned by long-term predictions that Scotland’s population will drop below five million in 2009.
The increase in the Scottish population is a result of three key factors: birth, deaths and migration.
Between mid-2003 and mid-2004 the total number of births rose by 3.4 per cent to 53,576 while the deaths dropped by 1.3 per cent to 57,588.
In the same year 61,900 re-located to Scotland from other parts of the UK, while 46,400 people left Scotland for elsewhere in Britain.
During the same period 36,300 people, including an estimated 2,300 asylum seekers, came to Scotland from overseas, in comparison 24,600 Scots moved abroad. As a result of higher immigration figures compared with migration, Scotland’s population received a net gain of 27,200 people.
Duncan Macniven, the registrar-general for Scotland, denied the increase was a statistical blip, but said any further increases were highly unlikely to be of such a size.
He admitted he could not fully explain the rise. "We have the statistics but what we don’t have is why there were more births, why people stayed in Scotland and why many more people made Scotland their new home. I would say that the immigration into Scotland was clearly the principal factor."
Professor Robert Wright, author of Scotland’s Demographic Challenge, who holds the chair in economics at the University of Stirling, said: "I am afraid that I think it is a one-off blip. Immigration policy is a reserved power ... being set in London."
He believes the cause of the increase in net immigration is as a result of the entry of ten countries into the EU in 2004. These countries were Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia.
He said: "All these countries have, on average, much lower material standards of living than Scotland. In this sense, Scotland has benefited from a large stock of people who were waiting to move in order to improve their personal economic circumstances."
The SNP called into question the figures and said they provided false comfort against what it described as "Scotland’s population time-bomb".
Jim Mather, the party’s enterprise and economy spokesman, said: "This report provides false optimism. While it shows around 26,000 people coming to Scotland, this is merely a one-off surge as a result of the EU enlargement in 2004. Official estimates confirm that these numbers will not be sustained and cannot solve Scotland’s population crisis."
It is truly amazing that no one in Britain seems to realize that there are hundreds of thousands of British colonists in the north of Ireland who could easily help with the Scottish population decline if they were only relocated to Scotland. What makes it so ironic is that most of these colonists are of Scottish ancestry.