National Records of Scotland

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Scotland’s population projected to increase but at a slower rate

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Scotland’s population projected to increase but at a slower rate

Monday, 21 Oct 2019
Demography News Release Image

Scotland’s population is projected to increase by 2.5% to 5.57 million between mid-2018 and mid-2043, according to statistics published today by the National Records of Scotland (NRS).

The figures published in the Projected Population of Scotland, 2018-based publication suggest that Scotland’s population growth will slow compared to previous years  and older people will make up a greater proportion of the future population.

How is Scotland’s population projected to change?

  • All of the projected population increase comes from inward migration to Scotland. There is no natural growth projected, with more deaths than births projected each year going forward.
  • Although Scotland’s population is projected to grow in the period up until mid-2043, growth could stall by this point as levels of migration are outweighed by natural decline in the population.
  • Scotland’s population is projected to age. Over the next 25 years to mid-2043, there are projected to be over 240,000 more pensioners in Scotland.
  • Scotland’s working age population is projected to be slightly smaller in mid-2043 than in mid-2018. In mid-2018 there were approximately 3.484 million working age people in Scotland, making up 64% of the population. In mid-2043, the working age population is projected to be 3.477 million, making up 62% of the population.
  • Life expectancy in Scotland is projected to increase by mid-2043, however improvements are lower than in previous projections. A baby girl born in mid-2043 could expect to live 83.8 years with a baby boy born in mid-2043 being expected to live 80.6 years. The gap between male and female life expectancy is projected to decrease slightly.

How does Scotland compare with the UK?

  • The population of the UK as a whole is projected to grow at a faster rate than Scotland, increasing by 9.0% to reach 72.4 million by mid-2043. If these changes were realised, Scotland’s share of the UK population could fall from 8.2% to 7.7% by mid-2043.

Paul Lowe, the Chief Executive of National Records of Scotland and Registrar General for Scotland, said:

“Scotland’s population is projected to continue increasing, but at a slower rate than it has done in previous years.

Past trends suggest that there could be more deaths than births in the next few years, with migration to Scotland projected to be the only driver of population growth.

Over the next 25 years, there are projected to be a growing number of older people, fewer children, and the working age population is projected to make up a slightly lower proportion of our total population given the expected increase to the pensionable age population”.

An infographic summarising the key points of the NRS report and an interactive data visualisation are available on the NRS website.

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