National Records of Scotland

Preserving the past, Recording the present, Informing the future

The Population of Scotland

The Population of Scotland

2.1 The estimated population of Scotland on 30 June 2005 was 5,094,800, a rise of 16,400 on the previous year and an increase of 30,600 since mid-2001. In the 12 months to mid-2005, there was a net migration gain of around 19,000, reflecting a net gain of around 12,500 people from the rest of the UK, a net gain of around 7,300 from overseas (including asylum seekers) and an adjustment of -1,500 for unmeasured migration (refer to the notes and definitions section for more details). Movements to and from the armed forces showed a net gain of around 940 and other changes (including changes in the prison population, and changes in the number of armed forces stationed in Scotland) amounted to a net loss of around 600 people. Compared with the previous year there were more births (+1.3 per cent) and fewer deaths (-1.8 per cent). Despite this, deaths exceeded the number of births by about 2,300.

2.2 The population increased for the third year in a row because more people came to Scotland than left. Around 57,300 people came to Scotland from England, Wales and Northern Ireland and around 44,800 left Scotland to go in the opposite direction. The net inflow of around 12,500 is lower than the previous year’s 15,500 net inflow reflecting less people coming to Scotland and more people leaving than the previous year. 

2.3 The lower overseas net gain of 7,300 comes from an inflow of around 35,400 (including asylum seekers) and an outflow of 28,100. Similar to the cross border flows, the net gain from overseas is also lower than the previous year’s net inflow of 11,700. Estimating international migration is particularly difficult as the estimate is based primarily on the International Passenger Survey (IPS) which is a sample survey conducted at main airports and ports across the UK, and the sample size for Scotland is very small (around 100 contacts in 2004). Internationally, a migrant is defined as someone who changes their country of usual residence for 12 months or more, therefore, short-term seasonal migrant workers will not be counted in the migration estimates, and hence will not be counted in the mid-year population estimates. More details about the migration data sources and definitions used can be found in 6.Notes and Definitions.

2.4 For comparison purposes it is better to look at a time frame of longer than one year, as population change tends to fluctuate from year to year, particularly for smaller areas. Since mid-2001 and the 2001 Census, Scotland’s population has increased by 0.6 per cent (+30,600) from 5.06 million to 5.09 million (Table 5). However, over the last ten years, Scotland’s population has decreased by 8,890 (-0.2 per cent): 5.10 million to 5.09 million (Table 6 and Figure 1). As illustrated by Figure 2, the main reason for the decrease is the excess of deaths over births (-34,975 from 1995 to 2005) though the gap has been closing in recent years, to about 2,300 between mid-04 and mid-05.

2.5 Table 8 shows movements to and from the UK and overseas between mid-2004 and mid-2005 by age group. As previously mentioned the main source for the overseas migration is the International Passenger Survey and as the sample is small for Scotland an age and sex distribution is assumed using information about GP registrations. Some changes have been made this year to the method used and these are described in 6.Notes and Definitions.

2.6 Migrants tend to be much younger than the general population with between 46 percent (rest of the UK) and 69 per cent (overseas) of in-migrants aged 16-34 compared with 24 per cent of the resident population. Only five per cent of people coming to Scotland from the rest of the UK were aged 65 and over, as were an assumed one per cent of overseas migrants.