National Records of Scotland

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Summary of Results

Summary of Results

The results of this new projection, summarised in Table 1, show the total projected population of Scotland falling slowly from 5.05 million in 2002 to 4.84 million by 2027, falling below 5 million in 2009. Longer term projections, for up to 40 years ahead, show a slightly faster decline after 2027 to 4.5 million in 2042. Although the trend of a slowly falling population is still the same as the previous 2001-based interim projections, the 2002-based projections fall at a slightly slower rate - because of lower mortality rates for older people, partly counter-balanced by higher net emigration.

Table 2 provides information on the projected components of change between 2002 and 2027. It is clear from this table that the most significant factor affecting future projected levels of population is the natural decrease - more deaths than births. More detailed information on the fertility assumptions underlying the numbers of births is given below. The number of births has been falling in recent decades, and the lower number of women passing through child bearing ages further contributes to the reduction in the number of births.

A summary of projected population by broad age groups is given in Table 3; projected populations by sex and five year age groups are given in Table 6. These tables show that the age structure of the population is projected to change notably between 2002 and 2027. Between 2010 and 2020, the pensionable age for women rises from 60 to 65 and the figures take account of this. The main changes are:

  • the number of children aged under 16 is projected to fall to 80 per cent of its 2002 level by the year 2027;
  • the number of people of working age is projected to fall by 8 per cent from 3.15 million in 2002 to 2.88 million in 2027;
  • the number of people of pensionable age is projected to rise by 25 per cent to nearly 1.2 million in 2027. (Without allowing for the change in the female pension age , the number of people over pensionable age would have increased by 45 per cent between 2002 and 2027.);
  • the number of elderly people of 75 and over is projected to rise by 61 per cent to 585,234 in 2027, and the sex structure of the elderly population over 75 years old is projected to change from 35 per cent male in 2002 to 42 per cent male in 2027. 

A useful summary measure of the age structure of a population is the dependency ratio - the ratio of persons aged under 16 or over pensionable age to those of working age. Table 4 shows that the dependency ratio is projected to fall slightly from 60 per 100 working age population to 59 in 2013, before rising to 68 in 2027. (Without the change in women's state pension age, the dependency ratio would have been much higher in 2023 - 73 per 100 working age population - than the currently projected ratio of 62.) After the completion of the change to the state pension age in 2020, the dependency ratio is projected to rise further, to reach to 78 in 2042.

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