Proportion of Borders population over age of 65 forecast to rise by more than half

The Borders might have to defy Brexit and, as this sign at Carter Bar promises, welcome more immigrants to defuse a predicted demographic time-bomb.
The Borders might have to defy Brexit and, as this sign at Carter Bar promises, welcome more immigrants to defuse a predicted demographic time-bomb.

The population of the Borders, identified as being 113,870 in the 2011 census, is predicted to rise by just 3,100 – or 2.3% – over the next 23 years, according to a new report by the National Records of Scotland (NRS).

That is just over a third of the 6.6% population increase that Scotland as a whole is expected to see by 2039.

Over the same period, there will be a 15% decrease in the number of working-age people, aged 16 to 64, in the region and a rise of 51%, made up of 7,100 more men and 6,400 more women, in those aged 65 and over.

The non-ministerial Scottish Government department’s projections of a fast-expanding ageing population do not take account of the UK’s decision to leave the European Union.

However, with the issue of freedom of movement of EU citizens high on the agenda for the current Brexit negotiations, a concern highlighted by new Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk MP John Lamont during a debate at Westminster last month, the NRS states: “Working-age migrants can play an important role in addressing the ageing population in the Scottish Borders.”

The report offers a new analysis of the number of people from the European Economic Area (EEA) – including Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein as well as the 27 EU member states – now living here, acknowledging that the 2011 census did not include a question on nationality.

The NRS reveals that 2.8% of the Borders’ population, some 3,200 people, were born in the EEA, compared to 3% nationwide.

Of those, 2,500, or 78%, are aged 16 to 64, compared to 62% of the regional population.

Only 360, or 11% ,of the EEA-born residents were aged 65 and over, just over half the region-wide proportion of 21%.

More than two-thirds of EEA-born residents aged 16 or over, some 2,000 people, are in employment, 10% more than the figure of 58% for Borderers as a whole.

The main sectors of employment for EEA residents are distribution, hotels and restaurants, accounting for 460 of them; manufacturing, for 445; and public administration, education and health, for 440.

Only 750 EEA Borders residents are classed as economically inactive. That’s 26% of them, well below the regional average of 38%.

The report also reveals that the proportion of EEA-born residents aged 16 to 74 educated to degree level is 39%, or 1,100 people, well up on the 28% figure for the regional population.

Of the overseas nationals in the Borders allocated national insurance numbers, the top five nationalities are Poland, Romania, Ireland, Australia and Italy.