National Records of Scotland

Preserving the past, Recording the present, Informing the future

The Age and Sex Structure of the Population

The Age and Sex Structure of the Population

3.1 The age/sex composition is one of the most important aspects of the population, as changes in different age groups will have different social and economic impacts. For example, increases in the elderly population are likely to place a greater demand on health and social services. Scotland’s estimated population is shown by age and sex in Figure 3.

3.2 Among older people, particularly over 75, the higher number of females reflects the longer expectation of life for women, partly as a result of higher rates of male mortality during the Second World War. The effects of a flu epidemic in 1922 and lower levels of fertility during the First World War are also evident, as seen in the sharp decline in the population aged over 84. The two baby booms of 1947 and the 1960s can also be seen with a sharp peak at age 58 and the bigger bulge between the ages of 35 and 45. These baby boomers and low fertility rates are the main reason Scotland’s population is likely to age in the future, though the scale of ageing is open to debate.

3.3 The changing age structure of the population since 1995 is illustrated in Figure 4. Of particular note is the decrease of 10 per cent in the number of children under 16 and the increase of 14 per cent in the number of people aged 75 and over. The ageing of the population is evident in the rise of 14 per cent in the 45-59 age group, and the fall of 10 per cent in the 16-29 age group.