Friday, 2nd May 2014; 08:30 (for a 09:00 start) - 11:00; The Dome, New Register House, 3 West Register Street, EDINBURGH, EH1 3YT

During 2014, ILC-UK, supported by the specialist insurance company, Partnership Assurance Group plc, is undertaking a series of events to explore the relationship between our changing demography and public policy.

The third event in the series explored the demographic implications of Scottish independence.

In 2014, Scotland will vote in an independence referendum which could significantly change its relationship with the rest of the United Kingdom. An independent Scotland would have a fully independent NHS, control a significant proportion of the North Sea oil reserves and will take on a percentage of the UK national debt.

An independent Scotland would also result in the UK having a new demographic makeup. There are currently a number of marked differences between the two countries which will be highlighted by the division. These include a 2.8 year gap in healthy life expectancy for men, as well as differences in overall life expectancy and mortality rates. Recent figures released by the ONS suggest that the future health of an independent Scotland may actually align with that of the UK. The number of children aged two to 15 either overweight or obese in Scotland is now equal to that of England (30%), and lower than Wales (36%), and Scottish men are significantly more active than their counterparts in both countries.

The seminar explored these differences, as well as how the demography of an independent Scotland may change over time, and what future Scottish Governments (with or without independence) may need to do to adapt to these demographic changes.

Scottish independence would have a number of age-related policy implications for both Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom. The issue of Scotland’s ageing population has already entered political debate, with the SNP announcing that, if elected, they would make new pensioners £4.40 a month better off than in England, while also pledging to set up a commission looking at the state pension age. The Scottish government has also announced that benefits, tax credits and state pensions would continue to be paid from the first day of independence, but have not addressed how they will meet the challenge of moving schemes from one administration to another.

During the discussion we explored:

  • How is the demography of Scotland different to that of England?
  • What would the demography of an independent Scotland look like and how might it change over time?
  • What are the policy implications for Scotland and for the rest of the United Kingdom of a different demographic composition?
  • How might potentially different policy on issues such as migration impact Scotland’s demography?
  • What will the Scottish Government need to do to adapt to demographic change?

Speakers at this event included Tim Ellis (Chief Executive, National Records of Scotland), David Sinclair (Assistant DIrector, Policy and Communications, ILC-UK), Richard Willetts (Director of Longevity, Partnership), Professor David Bell (Professor of Economics, University of Stirling), Kirsty MacLachlan (Head of Demography, National Records of Scotland) and Professor Carol Jagger (AXA Prof of Epidemiology of Ageing, Newcastle University).

The presentation slides from the event are availalbe to view below: