National Records of Scotland

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Scotland’s Population - 2018

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Scotland’s Population - 2018

Wednesday, 14 Aug 2019
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Life expectancy in Scotland has increased over the past three decades, but has stalled in recent years, according to a report published today by National Records of Scotland.

Scotland’s Population 2018 - 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 each year since 1855.

Key trends identified in this year’s review include:

  • Scotland’s population continues to increase and is at its highest ever at 5.44 million. Migration is the main driver of Scotland’s population growth. However, the rate of population growth has slowed for the second year running.
  • Population change varies across Scotland. Over the latest year to mid-2018, the population increased in 18 council areas of Scotland while 14 council areas (mostly rural, island and in the west of Scotland) decreased in population – three more than in the previous year.
  • Life expectancy in Scotland has increased over the past three decades, but has stalled in recent years. The slowing in improvement to life expectancy can be seen across all UK countries.
  • Deprivation strongly affects life expectancy and has an even greater effect on healthy life expectancy.
  • Scotland's total fertility rate is the lowest in the UK and falling at a faster rate than all other UK countries.
  • The stillbirth rate has fallen to its lowest ever level in 2018 and the infant death rate equalled its lowest ever level.

Paul Lowe, the Registrar General for Scotland, said:

“The Registrar General’s Annual Review, published every year since 1855, provides an opportunity to reflect on our changing population and demographic trends.

“For the eighteenth consecutive year, Scotland’s population has increased and now stands at a record high of 5.44 million. Migration continues to be the main driver of Scotland’s population growth, with more people coming to Scotland than leaving. However, we have seen our population growth slowing over the past two years. This is due to the combined effect of a fall in net migration, fewer births and more deaths.

“This year’s review shows that there have been changes in Scotland’s life expectancy and mortality trends. Life expectancy in Scotland has been increasing over the long term, but recent estimates indicate that it has stopped improving. The largest causes of the stall in life expectancy are the slowing of improvements seen in the reduction of deaths from heart disease and increases in drug related deaths.”

The Review is published alongside an infographic report.