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Sustainable Populations

What does it mean for a population to be sustainable?

Here are some ideas from our interviews

A balanced population, both demographically and socio-economically.

‘So, what does it mean to be sustainable? So, a balanced so you’re talking about, it is like biodiversity isn’t it. You need a balance of ages, you need a balance of gender obviously. Balance in social housing, private housing, rented, owned, that would be probably an ideal.’

Third sector stakeholder, Buckhaven, Methil, and Wemyss Villages

Adequate services and industry (especially transport and internet in the rural areas of Fife) to attract and retain people and business.

‘What is important is infrastructure. How quick can I get from A to B? And it’s, these things are very important and I think the infrastructure or road infrastructure, maybe also train and all the rest of it, in Scotland is not that great if you compare it to countries… and with Covid and kind of working from home and that is kind of normalised now, although I think it will probably turn back a wee bit. But what will happen is that there will be people looking for a quality of life, and they might be interested in working and living in the coastal villages. And that will be a good move of course, but that means that internet connections need to be up to speed. They need to be first class because there are people who can choose wherever to live, as long as there is a good internet connection. So the jobs might not be there. But basically, the jobs are there, because it’s possible, made possible by the internet. And the money that is earned is going to be spent in those areas.’

Private sector stakeholder, St Andrews

Appropriate diverse and stimulating employment opportunities within the local area.

‘So, most of the jobs are either university, tourism, bit of services, the public sector, so they’re not all necessarily well paid. So you have that massive gap between the affordable housing and, and the average wage. And actually, the average wage hides it. The real worker’s wage is much more temperamental, short term work… so I get lots of people coming to me desperate for housing. And there aren’t a lot of options. So that, to me, that what sustainability means –  the ability of everyone no matter how much the tax, to actually have a decent home and be able to access all the services that they need. That’s what sustainability means.’

Politician, Fife-wide

Appropriate housing that allows everyone access to affordable housing and is not inflated by second homeownership.

Because the constituency is a sort of area up until now of tourism, as you know, that has driven some hot spots in terms of second home ownership, particularly in the East Neuk inflated prices, which make it more difficult for people with families potentially looking to stay. And I suppose there has been an impact on the diversity of the different economies that exist locally, as well… but it needs to have a housing market that’s not overheated. And, yeah, it does feel like that for a particular couple of our communities, you know, the housing market is a real issue. There isn’t, you know, potentially an opportunity for people to even step onto the housing ladder, let alone progress. I think, you know, housing is absolutely critical, good quality housing. I think, if you can give people you know, surety and security about a roof over their head, a lot of good things will come from that.’

Politician, Fife-wide

Place specific population sustainability that appreciates local sensitivities and contexts to acknowledge that what may be important for one area, may not be for another.

‘I suppose what, what the data tells us, and what we know from delivery on the ground is Fife is not a homogenous place. It’s, I mean, it’s, it has interesting features in that it’s a kingdom of towns, as you know. We have no cities. So, within that structure, we also have variable kind of economic performance and associated with that areas of deprivation.

Public sector agency, Fife-wide

Population Projection Pyramids

Population pyramids help us to understand the profile of a population and population projection pyramids illustrate how this age profile is expected to change in the future. This is useful when considering the sustainability of a population. It also highlights how much it can very from place to place.