Welcoming Migrants? Migrant labour in rural Scotland

Philomena de Lima, Sharon Wright

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For a decade, Scotland has had a declining natural population, dispersed throughout a diverse geography, including remote highlands and islands, which presents a policy making context that is very different from other parts of the UK. Rural Scotland accounts for 95% of Scotland's landmass and only 18% of the population (Scottish Government 2008). In particular, the familiar challenges, presented by the combination of population ageing with below-replacement level fertility rates, have, until 2007, been reinforced by the extent of out-migration amongst people of working age. Evidence suggests that following EU enlargement in 2004, rural areas have experienced an influx of labour migrants from Central and Eastern European countries on an unprecedented scale. Whilst such large-scale migration into rural communities has provided a major challenge for public service provision and `social integration¿, it has also addressed local labour market shortages and created opportunities for regeneration. This article explores critical questions about the role and impact of migrant labour in rural communities in Scotland and the role of agencies in addressing the needs of all rural residents.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)391-404
Number of pages13
JournalSocial Policy and Society
Issue number03
Publication statusPublished - 2008


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