National Records of Scotland

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Births, deaths and other vital events, Q4 2021

Births, deaths and other vital events, Q4 2021

Tuesday, 15 Mar 2022
demography news release image

New figures published today from the National Records of Scotland show birth rates continuing to decrease, death rates increasing, and the number of marriages rising beyond pre-pandemic levels.

Key findings from the latest quarterly report show:

  • There were 12,284 births registered in Scotland between 1 October and 31 December 2021. This is 3.6 per cent lower than the quarter four average of 12,742 over the five years 2015-2019.
  • At 17,297, the number of deaths in 2021 quarter four is 17.1 per cent higher than the quarter four average of 14,777 for 2015-2019.
  • The age-standardised mortality rate for the four-quarter period ending in 2021 quarter 4 was 0.6 per cent higher than the previous four-quarter period (ending 2021 quarter 3). This rate takes into account the growing and ageing population and is therefore the best indicator of the direction of the mortality trend. 
  • There were 6,793 marriages. This was 12% higher than the average number of fourth quarter marriages over the five years 2015-2019.
  • There were 254 same-sex marriages, compared with a five-year average of 238.
  • Since June 2021 mixed-sex couples have been able to form a civil partnership. Of the 193 civil partnerships registered in the fourth quarter of 2021, 173 involved mixed-sex couples.
  • There were 20 same-sex civil partnerships, the same as the average 2015-2019.

Julie Ramsay, Vital Events statistician, said:

“Whilst the birth rate continued to fall and deaths were higher than the pre-pandemic average for the time of year, the number of marriages increased.

“12% more people got married in Scotland between October and December than the five year average for that time of year, coinciding with pandemic restrictions easing.”

There were 254 same-sex marriages, an increase on the five year average of 238, and of the 193 civil partnerships registered, 173 involved mixed-sex couples. The number of  same-sex civil partnerships remained in line with the five year average”

The publication ‘Births, Deaths and Other Vital Events - 4th Quarter 2021’ is available on the NRS website.


1. The full publication ‘Births, deaths and other vital events, fourth quarter 2021’ is available on the NRS website. The report provides figures for vital events which were registered in Scotland in the period 1 October – 31 December 2021. The data includes statistics on births, stillbirths, marriages, civil partnerships and deaths, including:

  • Quarterly figures for Scotland for each of the past 10 years
  • The totals for each Local Authority and NHS Board area for the latest quarter
  • More details analyses of the numbers of deaths for the latest quarter

2. Figures are provisional and might be subject to further revision. Figures for 2021 will be finalised when the annual vital events reference tables are published in summer 2022.

3. Comparisons are usually made by comparing the current year to the average of the previous five years.  For 2021, standard practice would be to compare against the 2016-2020 average.  However, as the 2020 figures were severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic – marriages were much lower than usual, deaths were higher, and registration of births was delayed – comparing 2021 figure to the 2016-2020 average would not give a true reflection of how the latest quarter’s figures compare to the average.  Comparisons have therefore been made against the 2015-2019 average.

4. National Records of Scotland (NRS) is a non-ministerial department of the Scottish Government. It is responsible for producing statistics on Scotland’s population. General information about NRS’s statistics can be found in the About our Statistics section of its website.

Media enquiries should be directed to: 
Donna Green – 07775 027 380
NRS Communications
Email: [email protected]

Further information about the statistics is available from:
NRS Customer Services
Email: [email protected]