National Records of Scotland

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Population projections for Scottish areas

Population projections for Scottish areas

Thursday, 27 Oct 2016
Demography news release image

Scotland’s projected population increase is likely to be unevenly spread across the country, according to a report issued today by the Registrar General for Scotland.

Commenting on the report, National Records of Scotland (NRS) Chief Executive and Registrar General Tim Ellis said:

“These new figures from National Records of Scotland show that over the next 25 years, if current trends continue, the population of Scotland is projected to increase by about seven per cent. But this varies across the country, with some areas like City of Edinburgh and Aberdeen City council areas projected to have relatively large increases compared with other large urban areas such as Glasgow City and Dundee City, while in some areas the population is projected to fall.”

Statistics published today by the National Records of Scotland (NRS) show the population of Scotland is projected to rise by seven per cent over the next 25 years, from 5.35 million in 2014 to 5.70 million by 2039, and continue to rise into the future. This pattern is not expected to be experienced in all areas of Scotland.

The report provides projections for the 25 year period 2014 to 2039. It includes population projections for council, NHS Board, Strategic Development Plan, and National Park areas. A summary of the projected population at five year intervals can be found in the Table on this website. 

The populations of 21 of the 32 council areas in Scotland are projected to increase, as shown in the Figure on this website. The council areas projected to show the largest relative increases over this period are the urban councils of City of Edinburgh (21 per cent), Aberdeen City (17 per cent), and their surrounding councils Midlothian (26 per cent), Aberdeenshire (20 per cent), and East Lothian (18 per cent).

Scotland’s population is projected to age and this is true for all administrative areas to a greater or lesser extent. By 2039, the number of children aged 0 to 15 is projected to increase in 12 council areas, the population of working age [Footnote 1] is projected to increase in 12 council areas, and the population of pensionable age [Footnote 1] and over is projected to increase in all council areas.

As the population of Scotland ages, larger increases are projected for older age groups. The population aged 75 and over is projected to increase in all council areas across Scotland between 2014 and 2039, as shown in the Figure on this website.

The report shows what happens under certain assumptions about future fertility, mortality and migration. The assumptions are based largely on past trends and although they will reflect past policy and economic impacts, they do not take account of future changes that may occur as a result of policy initiatives at a local or national level. They do not take account of any future effects due to the recent vote to leave the European Union.

Projections are uncertain and become increasingly so the further they are carried forward in time. In addition to the principal projection, seven variant projections have been produced based on alternative, but generally plausible, assumptions of future fertility, mortality and net migration.

The full publication Population Projections for Scottish Areas (2014-based) can be found on this website.

1) Working age and pensionable age and over populations are based on State Pension Age for a given year, as set out in the 2014 Pensions Act. Between 2014 and 2018, the state pension age will rise from 62 to 65 for women. Then between 2019 and 2020, it will rise from 65 years to 66 years for both men and women. A further rise in state pension age to 67 will take place between 2026 and 2028. Between 2044 and 2046, state pension age will increase from 67 to 68. The UK Government plan to review state pension age every five years in line with life expectancy and other factors.