Depopulation and decline sustained in the Borders counties for
over a hundred years reached critical proportions during the 1960's.
The shrunken population was skewed to the elderly and the female, and
employment opportunities for those remaining were diminished by
deterioration of the narrow economic base.
Attempts to redress the downward slide of the economy have
focused on the importation of industry from outside the region.
These have met with limited success. At the same time, the focus
on town -based industrial development has encouraged the threefold
effect of migration from countryside to cities, urban overcrowding
and unemployment, and farm abandonment, that bedevil governments
everywhere. Land -based development, to stem or reverse this flow,
has been advocated for developing countries for several years.
may be as appropriate for developed nations in some regions.
In this form of development the Borders have an advantage.
Without a heavy burden of civil and industrial bureaucracies or of
cities with their expensive infrastructures, it is an ideal location
for land based, labour intensive operations. It has, as well,
estates large enough to establish agro-industries on a viable scale.
In the forseeable future increasing costs and scarcity of fuels
will force a substitution of manpower for machinery. Transportation
of goods and commuting of workers will be restricted. Land -based
development could become obligatory. There are many advantages for
the Borders in such a development. Present settlement patterns
and employment structures obviate the development rather than hinder
it. The extra jobs created would enable the elderly to return to
the workforce. Development would be indigenous and would not
require large importations of capital.
Education will play a central role in the accommodation to such
a dramatic change of direction. Community education, on- the -job,
in- service training and continuing, nonformal education will have to
be greatly extended to impart new skills and engender new social
attitudes and new levels of expectation.