Migration and inequalities

Research undertaken for us by the University of St Andrews (published in 2010) sought to measure the impact of inward migration on widening inequalities in the Greater Glasgow area. It was based on analysis of the Scottish Longitudinal Study.


There were four research questions addressed:

  • Is selective internal migration (within Scotland) responsible for widening socioeconomic differences within Greater Glasgow?
  • Have the increasing socioeconomic differences within Greater Glasgow’s population been due primarily to a net gain of more deprived individuals or to a net loss of more affluent residents?
  • Is there a difference in the mortality experience of those people who migrate from and to the most deprived areas within Greater Glasgow compared to those who remain?
  • To what extent does selective internal migration contribute to widening inequalities assessed by area deprivation within Greater Glasgow? 


  • Between 1991 and 2001, the most deprived areas of Greater Glasgow experienced high losses of population among those aged 15 to 64 (mainly to other areas in Greater Glasgow). However, this was true of both high and low socioeconomic groups, and among those with and without a limiting illness in 1991.
  • This meant that net migration did not greatly change the composition of the areas’ population according to characteristics examined (although there was some variation by measure used: for example, those with a limiting illness became slightly more concentrated in deprived areas).
  • The study confirmed the widening mortality gap in 2001-06 compared with 1991-96 and found that migration may have played a small role in this widening. However, even when accounting for migration, the mortality gap had still widened.
  • Although it is important to investigate the potential role of migration in the widening mortality gap, this study suggests that in the case of Greater Glasgow selective migration between deprivation quintiles is not the sole or most important explanation for the widening mortality gap. 

Download the full report and access a summary of the findings in this briefing paper.