Who will leave? Oil, migration, and Scottish island youth

Carole L. Seyfrit, Old Dominion University
Lawrence C. Hamilton, University of New Hampshire


Rural communities facing the prospect of rapid energy development consider trade‐offs between economic benefits and “way of life”; as disruption. One of ten‐cited but unproved benefit of development is increased retention of local youth, who otherwise tend to migrate away. Using survey data from high school students of Scotland's Shetland and Orkney Islands (affected by North Sea oil development), we explore relations between intentions to migrate and individual background, aspirations, and attitudes. Attitudes toward oil development do not predict migration intentions. Instead, migration intentions are predicted by essentially the same variables identified in other studies, in areas where energy development was not occurring. Thus, we found no evidence that oil development fundamentally changed young people's thoughts about leaving.