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Scotland's Diaspora and Overseas-Born Population




2.1 The purpose of this paper is to provide some initial insights into the estimated size and geographical distribution of certain components of Scotland's diaspora and is based on the methodology of a paper prepared by the New Zealand Treasury in 2004 (as referenced above). It looks at two specific parts of Scotland's diaspora - the lived diaspora and the reverse diaspora - which can be thought of as part of the wider diaspora family.

2.2 The main source of information for the data included in this paper is the place of birth question in Scotland's Census and a number of other Censuses within the UK and overseas.

2.3 For the analyses in this paper, a person can be thought of within the concept of diaspora if they were born in Scotland, but are now resident in another country at the time of the other country's census and those born overseas, who have chosen to migrate to Scotland.


2.4 The term diaspora traditionally refers to a group of people with shared culture who have left their homeland, but maintain a strong identity and mutual solidarity. In practice, this definition has been extended to include expatriate communities living outside their home countries on a temporary or permanent basis. Butler (2001) 4 outlines four defining criteria for contemporary diasporas: a scattering of two or more destinations; a relationship with an actual or imagined homeland; common group identity shared among diaspora communities; and/or existence over two generations.

2.5 In Scotland, the potential benefits that can arise from renewing and refreshing relationships with the diaspora are acknowledged (Ancien et al. 2009 5). It is recognised that closer engagement between the diaspora and Scottish organisations and individuals has the potential to contribute to the Scottish Government's five strategic objectives (For more information on the strategic objectives, see http://www.scotland.gov.uk/About/purposestratobjs ). Earlier analytical work undertaken by the Culture, External Affairs & Tourism Analytical Unit at the Scottish Government has highlighted the role that government policy could play in encouraging and focusing such engagement (Eirich & McLaren 2008 6).

2.6 These analyses have emphasised the importance of understanding the diaspora as a collection of groups, rather than a homogenous whole. Thus there is a recognition that particular groups of people in the diaspora will be captured by different definitions of the term (Eirich & McLaren 2008; Rutherford 2009 7). These analyses point to the importance of policy approaches that are able to respond to the diversity of the diaspora by identifying and engaging each of these groups in different ways. Equally, they recognise that, even if an individual can be identified as belonging to a diaspora group, each will have a varying strength of feeling towards Scotland and being Scottish.

2.7 This earlier work also confirms that discussions on the contributions that the diaspora can make to Scotland are often hindered by a lack of information about the numbers of people involved. Estimates of the size of Scotland's diaspora vary hugely, depending on the definition and approach taken. But the two groups highlighted in this paper are of particular interest because of their direct connection to contemporary Scotland. Research has shown that individuals who have had a firsthand experience of Scotland are more likely to be knowledgeable about and favourable towards Scotland. 8 Data on migration into Scotland is also limited 9, but the connections migrant populations living in Scotland have with their countries of origin are often not heard in diaspora discussions, even though this is, in many respects, how the ancestral Scottish diaspora functions overseas.

2.8 This paper aims to supply initial insights into this issue using the best available population data on the size and structure of Scotland's diaspora and immigrant population. All of the data are derived from the place of birth question from Scotland, the UK and a selected sample of other overseas censuses and the paper seeks to provide some international comparisons, where appropriate. The paper considers both the groups and comments briefly on the implications of the initial insights emerging from this paper.


2.9 The principal source of information for this paper is the place of birth question from national censuses overseas and Scotland's Census to provide some insights into the size and geographical distribution of Scotland's diaspora and overseas-born population. In the context of this analysis, a person is understood to fall within the diaspora concept if they were born in Scotland, but they were resident in another country at the time of the other country's census. Similarly, it is also recognised that many people born overseas choose to migrate to Scotland (ie the 'reverse diaspora'). Both of these groups form part the 'lived disapora' because of their firsthand experience/connection to Scotland. 10

2.10 Although there are limitations to using place of birth data from a census, there are some advantages. The first is that place of birth data, including from other countries, are readily available and accessible online. Second, the meaning of place of birth is relatively clear, so the associated data are likely to be relatively reliable. Thirdly, people only have one place of birth, which ameliorates the risk of double counting.

2.11 Whilst the contribution of the ancestral diaspora is acknowledged, this paper does not seek to estimate the numbers of people living overseas who either claim Scottish ethnicity or ancestry and who can therefore trace their heritage to Scotland. Estimates for this group run into the millions and this aspect of the Scottish diaspora is the most commonly discussed and estimated.