National Records of Scotland

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Deaths up 10% as births fall to new low in 2020

Deaths up 10% as births fall to new low in 2020

Tuesday, 29 Jun 2021
Demography News Release Image

There were 17,284 fewer births than deaths registered in 2020, with the 46,809 births being the lowest annual total ever recorded since records began in 1855, according to figures released today by National Records of Scotland.

There were 64,093 deaths registered last year, 10% more than in 2019 and 6,333 above the previous five-year average. This represents the highest level of excess deaths seen since 1940.

2020 also saw the lowest infant death rate ever recorded, with 146 infant deaths. There were 198 stillbirths, a slight increase on last year's rate but low in historical terms.

Julie Ramsay, Vital Events Statistician, said:

"With over 64,000 deaths in 2020, which is 10% higher than in 2019,  the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on Scotland are clear. NRS statistics also show that there were only 46,809 births across Scotland in 2020, which is the lowest number since records began in 1855.”

There were just 11,831 marriages in 2020 compared to 26,007 in 2019, following restrictions on marriage ceremonies during the pandemic.

Of the 2020 marriages, 289 were same sex, and there were 72 civil partnerships in 2020, 11 fewer than in the previous year.  33 of these involved male couples and 39 involved female couples.

The publication Vital Events Reference Tables 2020 and an infographic are available on this website.