6.1 Scotland is not alone in having a natural decrease in population (i.e. deaths exceeding births). But, for most of Europe, this is compensated by higher in-migration than in Scotland. The population of Europe (EU-25) is projected to increase (by 2.7 per cent between 2004 and 2031). Italy, Germany and seven of the new accession states in eastern Europe are amongst the countries with a projected population decline which exceeds Scotlandís over the next 30 years, as Figure 9 shows.
6.2 Nor is the ageing of the population unique to Scotland. The pattern of change over the last twenty years is consistent with other countries in the UK and Europe, although the rate of change varies.
6.3 The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) recently announced a new two-year research initiative into aspects of Scotlandís demographic trends. Funded in partnership with the Scottish Executive, this £300,000 research programme will investigate migration, as well as fertility and the impact of an ageing population.