National Records of Scotland

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Scotland's population growth slowest since 2003

Scotland's population growth slowest since 2003

Friday, 25 Jun 2021

As of 30 June 2020, Scotland’s population was estimated to be 5.47 million, according to statistics published today by National Records of Scotland.

The figures published in the Mid-2020 Population Estimates report show Scotland’s population increased by 2,700 people (0.05% growth), the slowest growth since 2003. The average growth in the previous five years (to June 2019) was higher, at around 23,000 people.

Population growth slowed due to more deaths and lower levels of net migration. 

There were 63,100 deaths and 48,700 births in the year ending June 2020, which is 14,500 more deaths than births – the largest natural decrease on record. Deaths outnumbered births for the sixth year running.

While net migration was lower than previous years, 16,900 more people moved to Scotland than left in the year to June 2020. 

Population change varies across Scotland, with 20 out of 32 council areas experiencing population decline in the last year. The 12 council areas which saw population growth were mainly around the central belt. 

Esther Roughsedge, Head of Population and Migration Statistics, said:

“In the year to June 2020, Scotland’s population only increased very slightly – by 2,700 people – and is now estimated to be 5.47 million as of June 2020.

“A key reason for this small increase is the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the last year we have seen a 4% reduction in births and a 12% increase in deaths.  Also, the difference between the number of people coming to Scotland and those leaving is smaller than in any of the previous six years.” 

The publication Mid-Year Population Estimates is available on the NRS website.