National Records of Scotland

Preserving the past, Recording the present, Informing the future

Deaths below expected levels in first quarter of 2024

Deaths below expected levels in first quarter of 2024

Tuesday, 11 Jun 2024
demography news release image

The number of deaths registered in Scotland in the first quarter of this year was almost 9% lower than the expected number, according to figures published today by National Records of Scotland.  

16,755 deaths were recorded between 1 January and 31 March, 8.9% lower than the  expected number which was 18,391. 

Phillipa Haxton, Head of Vital Events Statistics at NRS, said: 

“The number of deaths was almost 9% lower than our expected number for this time of year. 

“The method for calculating excess deaths accounts for the large numbers of babies born post war reaching the age groups at which end of life is more likely. The previous method did not adjust for the increasing size of this group and underestimated how many deaths there would be in the population.”

In all age groups, deaths have been below expected levels for the last three quarters. In quarter 1 of 2024, deaths among under 65s were 117 (4%) lower than expected, deaths in the 65-79 age group were 468 (8%) below expected and deaths for people aged 80 and over were 1,051 (11%) lower than expected levels. 

11,560 births were registered in Scotland in the same timeframe. This is 4.6% lower than the five year average. There were 3,205 marriages in quarter one of 2024, an increase of 8.3% on the recent average.

These figures are provisional. The excess death figures are Official Statistics in Development. Final figures covering the whole of 2023 will be issued with Vital Events Reference tables in July. 


National Records of Scotland (NRS) is responsible for producing statistics on Scotland’s population. 

The report Births, Deaths and other Vital Events Quarter 1 2024 is available online here. There is also the option to look at data tables here. 

As a result of methodology changes, we are no longer producing as many breakdowns of excess deaths as we previously did. Information on future developments to the new excess deaths methodology can be found on the ONS website.

Comparisons for statistics (other than deaths) are usually made by comparing the current year to the average for the previous five years. For 2023, standard practice would be to compare against the 2018- 2022 average. As the 2020 figures were severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic – marriages were much lower than usual  and registration of births was delayed - comparing the 2024 figures to an average including 2020 would not give a true reflection of how the latest quarter’s figures compare to the average. 

2024 comparisons have therefore been made against the 5 years 2018-2019 plus 2021-2023.

Official statistics are produced by professionally independent statistical staff. General information about population statistics can be accessed in the About our Statistics section of the NRS website.

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 Statistics Customer Services
Email: [email protected]