Why Scotland’s population increase is very good news


From gov.scot two days ago:

‘Scotland’s population continued to increase between 2015 and 2016. Statistics published today by the National Records of Scotland (NRS) show that the estimated population of Scotland was 5,404,700 at 30 June 2016, which is the highest level recorded. The figures show a rise of 31,700 (0.6%) people over the year since 30 June 2015.’

Why was this both good news and evidence that it needs to go a little higher?

It’s reasonably modest growth compared to many other countries including England and the USA where rapid growth destabilises economies putting strain on social cohesion and on infrastructural elements like housing, roads, hospitals and schools. More modest growth can be absorbed while at the same time benefitting the economy with the new workers needed for economic growth and to work in the care industries where the aging population increasingly will need them. Affluent areas such as Northern Italy and Germany where population is stagnant or even declining are in deep trouble unless they permit quite a high level of uncontrolled immigration which brings unpredictability including rising crime and, in the worst, cases, terrorism.

One of the best examples of the need for some population growth or at least a replacement level birth-rate is Japan. See this:

‘Japan was one of the great powers of 20th century. It rose and fell, only to rise again – all within 100 years. The second rise is particularly notable: from 1955 to 1990 its nominal GDP grew from 8.4 trillion yen to around 430 trillion yen or about 12 percent per annum.  Underlying factors behind the economic miracle are well documented. From 1990 till 2015, however, the nominal GDP has grown only to 499 trillion yen or at dismal 0.6 percent per annum.  Radical monetary policies, liberal fiscal policies, speeches, criticisms, taunting – nothing seems to work…..Japan’s stock market indicators have not done well in the past two decades. How can a country lose its mojo so quickly? Have the Japanese people suddenly become less creative, less intelligent, less motivated and less hard working? Or is there something else that is responsible? The answer may lie in an altogether different matrix. During the boom years of 1955-1990, Japan’s population grew from 89 million to 124 million or around 0.93 percent per annum. In 1990-2015 period, however, population grew at a dismal 0.1 percent per annum. Did the Japanese suddenly stop having children in 1990? The data shows it was quite literally so. In each of the decades starting 1950 till 1990 the population grew at just over 1 percent per annum and then in the decade of 1990-2000, it dropped to 0.26 percent per annum.’

I think that’s clear and convincing. Scotland’s population growth is almost entirely due to immigration. There were slightly more deaths than births that year. However, the Scottish birth rate did increase ever so slightly at 0.7% and without immigration means there is not a crisis, without immigration, of the kind we see in Japan.




2 thoughts on “Why Scotland’s population increase is very good news

  1. ebreah April 30, 2017 / 10:08 am

    Dear sir,

    I did a crude calculation of Scottish population growth and found that what you have said in the above is true. I do believe however most do not comprehend the magnitude of the problem. I hope my crude calculation will at least highlight the issue.

    As reported by the BBC:

    “Scotland’s population continued to increase last year, rising to a record 5,404,700.

    The National Records of Scotland (NRS) figures showed an increase of 31,700 (0.6%) people over the year to the end of June 2016.”

    It was further reported that:

    “The increase in the population of older age groups has been much higher than younger age groups over the past 20 years

    The largest rise has been in the 75 and overs (+31%)

    The 0 to 15 age group has decreased most (-10%) over 20 years

    18% of the population are now aged over 65

    People under 16 make up 17% of the population

    65% of the population are aged 16 to 64.”

    As such, 972,846 Scots are 65 years of age or older. For the sake of calculation below, let us group the Scottish population into 0-24 years old, 25-44 years old, 45-64 years old and >65 years old age bracket. The assumption is that a 20-year period constitutes a full generational cycle (but for ease of calculation, the 0-4 years old age bracket is lumped together with the 5-24 years old one)

    Lets put up a hypothesis. In an ideal situation, for every OAP there should be a full-time dedicated carer; be it a spouse/child/immigrant (working as a carer). And for each carer, there should be another person (it can, again, be a child/spouse/the state [in terms of providing tax credits or benefits]) working full time to provide for the both of them.

    Therefore for Scotland to care for its OAP (and the assumption is that this burden will immediately fall on the 45-64 years old age group), we need 1,945,692 persons in the 45-64 years old age bracket. Furthermore we should repeat this for every age bracket. We shall find the calculation as follows:

    >65 years old age : 972,846 persons
    45-64 years old : 1,945,692 persons
    25-44 years old : 3,891,384 persons
    0-24 years old : 8,755,614 persons

    When the numbers are added up, the ideal number for Scottish population is 15,565,536. Scotland is actually in deficit of 10,160,836 persons. In order to overcome the deficit, immigration must be seriously considered as one of the solution.

    Of course this is idealistically hypothetical. In reality, a demographic graph will always bulge in the middle and can never be perfectly pyramidical. However this calculation shows that the Scottish population is top heavy with OAP and the current population growth is unable to support OAP in the near future.

    This can be illustrated by projecting the population growth for the next 15 years (in order to coincide with the 2031 Census) by using the geometric progression formula:

    arn (n is supposed to be a superscript but I cannot get it to be in this comment column)

    a= the latest population figure (5,404,700 persons)
    r= the growth rate (1.006)
    n= year of projection

    Therefore the Scottish population by year 2031 will be 5,912,093 persons, a mere addition of about 500K persons. We are still in need of more than 9.5 million persons as per our initial calculation in the above.

    Now lets calculate the r need to increase the population to 15,565,536 persons and spread the growth over 15 years too.


    r=1.07306 (population growth of 7.306% per annum)

    In this year alone, Scotland actually needs a net addition of 394,867 persons to its population. This is the scale of immigration needed into Scotland notwithstanding the country’s ability to do so. This is why the Scottish government is banging about the need of further immigration into Scotland. It literally needs hundreds of thousands of people to take care its aging population and redress the population imbalance. Even if, by miracle, all Scottish women of child-bearing age have four children, it will still be not enough to solve the issue.

    This is why the two-child only tax credit policy (and the nastier rape exemption clause) is devastating to Scotland. It will definitely result in no population growth. As you have highlighted, the risk being Japan is very much likely. The irony is not lost too, as the age bracket that needs immigrants most is the one most vehemently against it.

    [caveat: I am neither a mathematician nor a statistician. I am also not versed in population dynamics. All these calculations are based on my ‘O’ level understanding of mathematics]


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