National Records of Scotland

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Projected Population of Scotland (2020-based)

Projected Population of Scotland (2020-based)

Last update: 27 January 2023
Next update: December 2023

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) have produced new variant population projections using new international migration assumptions. They were published on 27 January 2023. New assumptions were developed following the latest expert advice and latest provisional estimates of international migration.

ONS and NRS advise users to use these new 2020-based interim national population projections: estimated international migration variant (which include figures for Scotland) instead of the 2020-based interim national population projections published in January 2022. This is because this release includes more recent estimates of international migration in the averages used to calculate the short- and long-term international migration assumptions.

Key findings:

  • The population of Scotland is projected to continue increasing until around mid-2033, peaking at 5.53 million. It is then projected to fall by 0.6% to 5.49 million by mid-2045. The projections show Scotland’s population falling below the mid-2020 baseline by around 2050.
  • The projected population change for Scotland is lower than the figure for the UK as a whole. The population of the UK is projected to grow by 8.0% to mid-2045. If these projections were realised, Scotland’s share of the UK population would fall from 8.1% in mid-2020 to 7.6% by mid-2045.
  • Scotland’s population is still projected to age. The number of people aged 65 and over is projected to grow by nearly a third by mid-2045. The number of children is projected to fall by nearly a fifth. The population aged 16-64 is projected to fall slightly (-3%).
  • More people are projected to move to Scotland than leave each year. However, there are projected to be more deaths than births each year, and the gap between births and deaths is projected to widen. Over time, this will outweigh the growth from migration.

Key changes in the latest update

  • The long-term net international migration assumption for Scotland is +13,000 per year. This is higher than the figure of +10,000 per year used in the original projections. This means that the long-term projections for Scotland are higher.
  • Because it is only the international migration assumptions that have changed, the biggest impact is on the number of young adults, as migration figures are highest for this age group.
  • In the original figures, the population of Scotland was projected to continue increasing until around mid-2028, peaking at 5.48 million. It was then projected to fall by 1.8% to 5.39 million by mid-2045. The new figures show the same pattern of the population continuing to grow for a number of years before starting to fall. However, due to higher migration assumptions, the population is now projected to continue increasing until around mid-2033, peaking at 5.53 million. It is then projected to fall by 0.6% to 5.49 million by 2045. The projections show Scotland’s population falling below the mid-2020 baseline by around 2050.

Comparison between the population projections for the latest update and previous versions

 

Further information
The original (unrevised) 2020-based population projections for Scotland  

ONS 2020-based interim national population projections: estimated international migration variant, including data for Scotland

Uses and Limitations of Population Projections

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