National Records of Scotland

Preserving the past, Recording the present, Informing the future

Population ageing in rural communities

Population ageing in rural communities

Thursday, 27 Aug 2020
Demography News Release Image

Rural and island communities are ageing at a greater rate than those in cities as of 30 June 2019, according to statistics published by National Records of Scotland.

Today’s figures provide a breakdown of Scotland’s population into almost 7,000 small geographical areas, known as data zones.

The figures show that, over the last decade, in Na h-Eileanan Siar 94% of data zones, representing 34 small areas, became older in terms of median age, which is the age at which half the population is younger and half older. In contrast, in Dundee City 44% of data zones, representing 82 small areas, became younger in terms of median age.

Overall more than half of the data zones in every council area increased in median age, reflecting the overall ageing of Scotland’s population.

Denise Patrick, Head of Population and Migration Statistics, said:

“In the last decade, mainly rural councils, as well as those in the West of Scotland have seen a higher proportion of their areas decrease in population. Whilst during the same time cities have seen more areas increase in population.

“Many small geographical areas change in population over time. There is often many reasons for this including births and deaths, as well as migration into and from the area. Larger changes may be due to housing demolitions or new housing developments being built in the area.

“The data zone with the highest population, as of June 2019, was Currie West in the City of Edinburgh, which has 3,784 people living there. This area contains student accommodation for Heriot-Watt University which helps explain the high number of people.

“There are also three data zones with a population of zero, these are in Glasgow City. Major demolitions in these areas have caused the depopulation.”

We also published local area migration statistics today which brings together data produced by NRS as well as by other organisations such as ONS, DWP and the Home Office. Users can compare different areas and indicators and access the latest migration data for council areas, NHS Board areas, and Scotland in the spreadsheet or our interactive visualisation tool.

The publication Mid-2019 Small Area Population Estimates Scotland and an infographic summary are available on this website.