An independent Scotland would lose its young workers to the rest of the UK

Sarah Spickernell
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Young workers would be most likely to leave Scotland if it became independent (Source: Getty)
If Scotland votes in favour of independence on 18 September, young workers are the most likely group to pack up and leave the country, according to a report published in the journal Population, Space and Place.
Called Forecasting Scottish Migration in the Context of the 2014 Constitutional Change Debate, it looks at how internal and international migration to and from Scotland are likely to be affected by the outcome of the referendum, up to and including the year 2021.
Migration is considered to be a highly uncertain and unpredictable component of population change, but by studying historical migration data and gathering the opinions of a panel of 12 experts, the researchers have been able to draw some conclusions about what might happen.
Their results show that patterns are likely to vary according to the population group in question, with young workers being most sensitive to constitutional change.
Across all four groups of students, young workers, retirees and families with children, the number of people moving to Scotland from the rest of the UK is expected to decrease. In the case of students, families and retirees, this will be balanced to some extent by a decrease in migration in the other direction.
But when it comes to young workers, migration out of Scotland is expected to actually increase – in the event of independence, more of them would head to other countries in the UK.
And it's not just the rest of the UK they would be heading for: international immigration from Scotland would also increase for young workers.
Dr. Arkadiusz Winiowski, lead author of the study, emphasised the difficulties that uncertainty around migration creates for policymakers in Scotland.
"International and internal migration, with their inherent uncertainty, pose a challenge for policymakers, regardless of the constitutional circumstances after the independence referendum," she said.
"All decisions and policies regarding future migration flows in Scotland will need to take large uncertainty of predicted migration into account."

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