National Records of Scotland

Preserving the past, Recording the present, Informing the future

Scotland’s population 2017

Scotland’s population 2017

Wednesday, 1 Aug 2018
News release image

Scotland’s population is growing and ageing, according to a report published today by National Records of Scotland.

Scotland’s Population 2017 - The Registrar General’s Annual Review of Demographic Trends is a compendium of statistics published throughout the year which paint a picture of modern Scotland. The Review has been published since 1855, and this is the 163rd edition.

Key trends identified in this year’s review include:

  • Scotland’s population is at its highest ever at 5,424,800 in 2017. Migration is the main reason for Scotland’s population increase over the past 10 years, although population growth has slowed.
  • Overall, Scotland’s population is projected to rise and age, but with some areas projected to face depopulation.
  • Life expectancy has increased over the past three decades, but has stalled in recent years. Life expectancy varies within Scotland.
  • There were just over 5,000 more deaths than births in 2017. 

Amy Wilson, Director of Statistical and Registration Services at National Records of Scotland said:

“The Registrar General’s Annual Review, published every year since 1855, gives us a chance to reflect on our changing population and demographic trends.

“This year’s review shows that while the population of Scotland is at its highest ever, at 5.42 million, and has grown by 5% over the last decade, this growth rate has slowed. Over the latest year, Scotland’s population has grown at a slower rate than on average over the past 10 years. This is because of reduced migration levels as well as an increase in the number of deaths and decrease in the number of births.

“However, Scotland’s population is still projected to increase to 5.58 million in 2026, and to continue rising to reach 5.69 million in 2041. We expect this growth to be entirely reliant on migration, as the number of deaths are projected to continue to be higher than the number of births.”

The Review includes an invited chapter written by analysts at NHS Health Scotland, which explores the concept of burden of disease. The Review is published alongside an infographic report.