Frequently Asked Questions - Even if welfare is more affordable now, doesn’t Scotland’s ageing population mean that in the long run welfare will become unaffordable?
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The longer-term demographic challenge of an ageing population affects every western country, including Scotland and the UK as a whole. The particular challenge Scotland faces is projected lower growth in our working-age population, although Scotland's total dependency ratio (working age population compared to pensioners and children) is projected to be more advantageous than the UK's for at least 15 years. The Government Economic Strategy sets out a target to match average European (EU-15) population growth over the period from 2007 to 2017, supported by increased healthy life expectancy in Scotland over this period. What is clear is that this challenge is best addressed in an independent Scotland. An independent Scotland can address population growth by creating new opportunities for young people to build their careers and families within Scotland, and through action to attract people to Scotland the right people with the right skills – either Scots who have moved away or new migrants.
These matters are currently reserved to Westminster, which has different priorities for the UK economy and migration, so without independence, Scotland will not have the mechanisms to address its projected demographic issues.
Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.