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Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 February 2007, 00:49 GMT
More women than men leave isles
Young people were found to be leaving to study or get jobs
More women than men left the Western Isles as its population declined, a migration study has found.

Research commissioned by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar (Western Isles Council) also found that fewer women were moving to the islands.

The Hebrides Migration Study said 71% of those coming to the area were male.

Forecasting also predicted that there would be more people by 2019 - but fewer schoolchildren, people of working age and women of child-bearing age.

The findings will be discussed by the Comhairle's sustainable development committee.

It will be asked to set up a population/migration strategy group to develop an action plan to tackle population decline.

The study said there had been long-term decline between 1901 and 2001, which was steepest in Harris, the Uists and Barra.

Education opportunities

However, there has been a recent upturn in the isles' population.

Quality of life was one of the reasons for the increase in people choosing to live in the Outer Hebrides.

Migration away from the islands was much higher among women, while 71% of migrants coming to the Western Isles were male.

Limited job and further education opportunities were said to be key driving forces behind the decline in numbers.

Young people were finding it difficult to get affordable housing, while the report said the strong sense of community that attracted some people to the isles could be "suffocating and excluding" for others.

The Comhairle, in partnership with Western Isles Enterprise and Communities Scotland, commissioned Hall Aitken and Ionad Naiseanta na h-Imrich to carry out the research.

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