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High Level Summary of Statistics: Population and Migration


Deaths in Scotland
Last updated: August 2016

The number of deaths registered in Scotland in 2015 was 57,579. This was 3,340 (6.2 per cent) more than in 2014. This was the largest number since 2003, when 58,472 deaths were registered in Scotland. However, it was lower than in all but one of the years before 2003, and was the thirteenth lowest total recorded since the introduction of civil registration in 1855. The lowest figure ever was 53,661 in 2011.

In 2015, just under half of all deaths were due to the so-called 'three big killers':

The types of cancer with the largest numbers of deaths included cancers of the trachea, bronchus and lung (4,047 deaths), bowel cancer (1,601 deaths), cancers of the lymphoid, haematopoietic and related tissue (1,149 deaths), breast cancer (992 deaths), prostate cancer (986 deaths) and cancers of the oesophagus (816 deaths).

Since 1980, the total number of deaths from the so-called ‘three big killers’ has reduced, falling from 65 per cent of all deaths during 1980-82 and 1990-92, to 58 per cent during 2000-02 and to 48 per cent in 2015. The proportion of deaths caused by coronary heart disease has fallen from 29 per cent in 1980-82 to 12 per cent in 2015, and by cerebrovascular disease from 14 per cent to seven per cent. However, the number of deaths from cancer rose by 16 per cent (from an average of 13,903 per year in 1980-1982 to 16,093 in 2015); as a proportion of all deaths, it increased from 22 per cent to 28 per cent (mainly due to the 10 per cent fall in the total number of deaths from all causes, from 64,050 per year in 1980-82 to 57,579 in 2015).

Other major causes of deaths registered in 2015 included:

There were 175 deaths of infants (children aged under one) in 2015.

Causes of death in Scotland

Causes of death in Scotland

Source: NRS Registration data

More information about Deaths (National Records of Scotland (NRS) website)

Death Certificates and Coding the Causes of Death (NRS website)

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