National Records of Scotland

Preserving the past, Recording the present, Informing the future

Scotland's Population

Scotland's Population

Tuesday, 6 Oct 2020
RGAR News release image

A report on Scotland’s population shows a number of ‘first on record’ results in 2019, according to statistics produced by National Records of Scotland today.

These include:

  • Scotland’s population was at a record high at 5.46 million.
  • The lowest number of births were recorded since records began in 1855, with fewer than 50,000 registered. 
  • The number of marriages registered was also at an all-time low of just over 26,000.

Other key findings show:

  • Deaths have outnumbered births for the 5th consecutive year, meaning the recent population increase is due to migration.
  • The number of households is growing faster than the population, with 1 in 5 people now living alone.
  • Life expectancy was improving for decades, but has changed very little in the last five years.

Given the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, this report also provides an analysis of all deaths involving COVID-19 from March to September this year, providing a summary of the spread and impact of the virus in Scotland.

Pete Whitehouse, Director of Statistical Services said:

“This report provides a review of statistics, trends and analysis of Scotland’s population for 2019. Given the impact of COVID-19, we have included the latest analysis of deaths involving COVID-19. Together, these provide a picture of Scotland prior to the pandemic and a summary of the spread and impact of COVID-19 on mortality.

“Today’s report describes how the number of deaths involving COVID-19 increased sharply in the first 6 weeks of the pandemic, before falling again, with numbers remaining very low since July.

“More than three quarters of deaths were among those aged 75 and over, and after taking age into account, people were more likely to die with COVID-19 if they were male, if they lived in an urban area, or lived in a deprived area.

“Alongside this, the statistics highlight a number of firsts for our population in 2019, prior to the pandemic. The population was at its highest, and births and marriages were the lowest ever recorded.

“Understanding Scotland’s population plays an important role in monitoring the impact of COVID-19, and allowing us to analyse the effect of the pandemic.

“NRS will continue to publish regular statistics and analysis on deaths involving COVID-19, as well as monthly numbers of births and deaths. Next spring we will release our first population estimates that take the pandemic into account, and next autumn we will publish the first statistics on how it has affected life expectancy in Scotland.”

The full publication Scotland's Population 2019 - The Registrar General's Annual Review of Demographic Trends and an infographic overview is available on this website.