Demography of Scotland and the implications for devolution inquiry launched

05 February 2016

Scottish Affairs Committee launches an inquiry into the demography of Scotland. The inquiry examines Scotland’s demographic trends and their implications for public policy in the context of the devolution settlement.

After several years of decline, Scotland’s population is now growing, albeit at a much slower rate than in England, and like the populations of most developed countries, it is also ageing. These demographic trends present challenges and opportunities to both the UK and Scottish Governments and they will affect a diverse range of policy areas including health, housing, transport, welfare and the economy.

In this inquiry the Committee will examine what the current predictions are and who is responsible for responding to them. Additionally, in light of the decision to devolve further powers to Scotland, we will ask if there is effective joint working between governments on these issues.

Terms of reference

The Committee invites written evidence on the following issues:

  • What are Scotland’s demographic trends and how do they compare with the rest of the United Kingdom?
  • What accounts for any differences in projections?
  • To what extent can either the Scottish Government or the UK Government influence Scotland’s demography?
  • How does the life expectancy of someone born in Scotland today compare with someone born elsewhere in the United Kingdom and what are the policy implications of any differences?
  • Does the Scottish Government have adequate policy levers to attract and retain people of working age to Scotland?
  • To what extent are Scotland’s demographic forecasts successfully captured by public policy considerations at a devolved and UK level? What more could be done?
  • Should demographic trends (beyond just a share of population) be a factor in determining the funding settlement across the UK?
  • What impact are Scotland’s demographic trends forecast to have on a) Scotland’s economy and b) the provision of services in Scotland?

Get involved

Send a written submission

Send written submissions via the form available on our demography inquiry page.

Social media

You can also contribute to the debate on

Chair's comment

Committee Chair, Pete Wishart, commented:

"The better we understand what our population will look like in the coming decades, the better we can plan for the future. This inquiry will help us to understand the demographic challenges that lie ahead and indicate which policy areas will be most affected.

It is a wide-ranging topic that will have an impact on every area of government. We will be looking at how prepared the country is to deal with what could be significant societal changes.

We will also be asking how demographic differences between Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom are accounted for in national policy. One only has to look at the ongoing negotiations over the fiscal framework and the question of whether Scotland should bear the economic risk of slower population growth to see the relevance of our inquiry."

Further information

Image: iStockphoto

Share this page