Economic reports and research

Youth Migration

Population Growth and economic success are closely linked. This was recognised by HIE, and by other partners, some years ago, leading to the aspiration of growing the region's population from less than 440,000 in 2005 to half a million by 2025. The Government Economic Strategy endorses the importance of population growth and has set a target for population growth for Scotland of matching the average growth rates of the EU 15 over the periods 2007 to 2017.

In addition to overall population numbers the demographic profile of the Highlands and Islands, compared to the rest of Scotland, is older, has a trend towards an ageing population, and of particular significance, has an under-representation of young people aged 15-30. If the Highlands and Islands had the same demographic profile as the rest of Scotland there would be an additional 18,000 young people in the 15 and 30 age range within the region.

Much of the reason for this demographic imbalance has been attributed to the need over time to leave the region to undertake academic study beyond school. However, few steps have been undertaken to dig deeper into this demographic issue and to seek a wider understanding that might influence policy and actions in the future. In 2008 HIE commissioned research designed to provide a better understanding of the migration choices of young people in the Highlands and Islands.

The objectives of the study were to:

  • explore the attitudes of young people within and outwith the region to living, studying and working in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland;
  • establish the factors which most influence young people's decisions to migrate to and from the Highlands and Islands, highlighting sub-regional and other variations of particular pertinence;
  • identify appropriate interventions to support population growth through in-migration of young people and to create the conditions which may reduce out-migration;
  • create a baseline upon which the direction and shift in attitude would be measured over time and the effect of any policy interventions assessed.

Opinions from some of the study participants can been viewed in this video.


Youth migration summary report 2009
Published 31 Aug 2010
Youth migration full report 2009
Published 31 Aug 2010
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