National Records of Scotland

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Almost three deaths for every two births registered in 2022

Almost three deaths for every two births registered in 2022

Tuesday, 14 Mar 2023
demography news release image

There were almost 16,000 more deaths than births registered in Scotland in 2022, according to new figures released by National Records of Scotland. 

Provisional figures show there were 62,942 deaths but only 46,959 births. 

The latest figures for October to December show there were 16,856 deaths, 9.3% higher than the five-year average for this time of year. 

There were increases in the number of deaths across a range of causes including respiratory diseases which were 8.7% higher at 1,900. The Coronavirus (COVID-19) was the underlying cause of 353 deaths during this quarter. No deaths were registered where the underlying cause was adverse effects of a COVID-19 vaccine.

There were 11,899 births registered in Scotland in this period, which is 4.9% fewer than the quarter four average. 

Julie Ramsay, Vital Events Statistician at National Records of Scotland, said: 

“The gap between deaths and births continues the period of negative natural change, where the number of deaths outnumbers the number of births, which began in 2015. Having fewer births than deaths in a population is referred to as ‘negative natural change’ meaning that without external factors such as migration, the population will fall.”

The number of stillbirths (44) was 4.3% lower than the quarter four average and the number of infant deaths (42) was 3.7% below average.

The report, Births, Deaths and other Vital Events Quarter 4, also shows 6,370 couples married in Scotland, nearly 3% more than the recent average.

There were also 169 civil partnerships, 141 of which were for mixed sex couples. There were 28 same-sex civil partnerships, compared with a five year average of 20.


Comparisons are usually made by comparing the current year to the average of the previous five years.  For 2022, standard practice would be to compare against the 2017-2021 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 2022 figure to the 2017-2021 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 average of the five years 2016-2019 plus 2021.

The report and associated data are available on our website at Births, Deaths and Other Vital Events - Quarterly Figures: Fourth Quarter | National Records of Scotland (

Media enquiries should be directed to:

Donna Green
NRS Communications
Tel: 07775-027-380
Email: [email protected]

Further information about the statistics is available from:

NRS Customer Services
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