National Records of Scotland

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2004-based Population Projections for Scottish Areas: Results of the Projection

2004-based Population Projections for Scottish Areas: Results of the Projection

2.1 Scotland

2.1.1 The results of the 2004-based projections show the total population of Scotland rising from 5.08 million in 2004 to 5.13 million in 2019 before falling to 5.07 million by 2031. Longer term projections for up to 40 years ahead show a continuing decline after 2031 to 4.86 million in 2044. The point at which Scotland’s population is projected to fall below 5 million is now 2036 rather than 2017. It should be stressed that the precise point at which the population reaches a particular level can be very sensitive to relatively small changes in the underlying assumptions, and should therefore be treated with caution. Figure 1 shows the results for Scotland for 20 years ahead, up to 2024 where the decline after 2019 can just be seen.

2.1.2 A key point is that, despite the projected rise in the size of the population over the next 15 years, Scotland’s population is still projected to age markedly.  In addition, changes in the size and age structure of Scotland’s population vary considerably across the administrative areas of Scotland.  Further details on the national projection results are available in the publication 'Projected Population of Scotland (2004-based)'.

2.2 Council areas

2.2.1 The populations of 14 of the 32 council areas in Scotland are projected to increase and 18 to decrease by 2024 as shown in Table 1. The map at Figure 2a and the chart at Figure 2b show the projected percentage change in population between 2004 and 2024 for each council area. In general, most councils adjacent, or close to, Edinburgh City are projected to increase in size whereas other large urban areas are projected to decline - for example, Aberdeen City, Glasgow City and Dundee City. Other areas in the west, such as Inverclyde, East and West Dunbartonshire, Renfrewshire and all the island council areas are also projected to decline.

2.2.2 The council areas which are projected to show the largest relative increases over this period are West Lothian (+21 per cent), Scottish Borders (+15 per cent), East Lothian (+13 per cent) and Edinburgh City (+10 per cent). The largest relative population decreases are projected in Aberdeen City (-18 per cent), Eilean Siar (-15 per cent), Dundee City (-14 per cent) and Inverclyde (-14 per cent).

2.3 NHS board areas

2.3.1 There are also projected differences in the size of the populations of NHS board areas over the next 20 years. This is illustrated in the map at Figure 3a and the chart at Figure 3b which both show the projected percentage change in the population of NHS board areas between 2004 and 2024.

2.3.2 Six of the NHS board areas are projected to increase and 9 to decrease. The areas with the largest relative projected increases are Borders (+15 per cent), Lothian (+11 per cent), Fife (+9 per cent) and Forth Valley (+5 per cent). The areas with the largest relative projected decreases are Western Isles (-15 per cent), Shetland (-11 per cent), Argyll & Clyde (-6 per cent) and Grampian (-5 per cent).

2.4 Age structure across Scotland

2.4.1 As well as wide differences in the projected size of the population for different areas, there are large differences in the projected age structures of different areas. Table 2 gives detailed population projections by age group and Table 3 gives the changes for selected age bands. The number of children aged 0-15 is projected to decrease by 12 per cent from 0.94 million in 2004 to 0.82 million by 2024. The number of people of working age [Footnote 1] is projected to decrease by 1 per cent from 3.18 million to 3.14 million and the number of people of pensionable [Footnote 1] age to increase by 19 per cent from 0.97 million to 1.15 million.

2.4.2 Amongst council areas the number of children aged 0-15 is projected to decrease in all areas by 2024 apart from Scottish Borders (an increase of 7 per cent), West Lothian (+6 per cent) and Edinburgh City (+3 per cent). The projected decline in the other council areas ranges from -40 per cent in Shetland Islands to -0.1 per cent in Fife as shown in Figure 4a.

2.4.3 There are also projected differences in the size of the working age [Footnote 1] population between council areas by 2024. Figure 4b shows the percentage change in the population aged 16-59/64 [Footnote 1] between 2004 and 2024 and includes the change in women’s state pension age from 60 to 65 between 2010 and 2020. Of course this is the state retirement age and in practice people will retire at a range of ages. The working age population is projected to increase in 12 council areas by 2024; increasing the most in West Lothian (+20 per cent), East Lothian (+13 per cent), Edinburgh City (+12 per cent) and Scottish Borders (+10 per cent). A decrease is projected in the remaining 20 council areas ranging from a decrease of -22 per cent in Aberdeen City to a decrease of -1 per cent in North Lanarkshire.

2.4.4 Table 3 shows the projected percentage change in the working age population at 2024, taking account of the change in women’s state pension age between 2010 and 2020. It also shows the percentage change if women’s state pension age remained the same. For Scotland, the projected percentage decrease in the size of the working age population between 2004 and 2024 would be -7 per cent instead of -1 per cent. In West Lothian, the projected increase in the working age population would reduce from 20 per cent to 13 per cent.

2.4.5 There are also differences between council areas in terms of the projected percentage change in the population of pensionable age (taking into account the change in women’s state retirement age), as Figure 4c shows. The population of pensionable age is projected to increase in all but 2 council areas by 2024 (Glasgow City and Dundee City are projected to fall by -13 per cent and -5 per cent respectively). The largest relative increases are projected to be in Aberdeenshire (+57 per cent), West Lothian (+47 per cent), the Shetland Islands (+42 per cent) and the Orkney Islands (+39 per cent). Table 3 also shows the projected percentage change between 2004 and 2024 not including the change in women’s pension age for NHS board areas.

2.4.6 By 2024 the Scottish population aged 75 and over is projected to increase by 53 per cent, ranging from a projected increase of 112 per cent in West Lothian to a projected decrease of -5 per cent in Glasgow City.

2.4.7 There are similar variations by NHS board area. Figure 5a, Figure 5b and Figure 5c show the projected percentage change in the population aged 0-15, 16-59/64 and 60/65+ by NHS board areas. The number of children aged 0-15 is projected to decrease in all NHS board areas except Lothian and Borders.  In addition, the population of working age [Footnote 1] is projected to decrease in all except 5 areas: Lothian, Borders, Fife, Forth Valley and Lanarkshire.  In contrast the population of pensionable [Footnote 1] age is projected to increase in all NHS board areas apart from Greater Glasgow where it is projected to decrease by -2 per cent between 2004 and 2024.

2.4.8 The previous section described the relative changes in population numbers overall and within age groups across local authority and health board areas. Table A (pdf document 12 Kb) summarises these changes, moving from the area with the greatest projected population decrease (Aberdeen City) to the area with the largest increase (West Lothian) and shows the following general pattern. The decreases in population are largely associated with large decreases in children and working age population. In areas with increases in population, this is associated with large increases in the pensionable aged population.

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2.4.9 In contrast to this general pattern, Glasgow City is projected to have a decrease in both children and pensionable aged population. In Edinburgh City, the population in each age group is projected to increase, with the greatest increase in the working age population.

2.4.10 The preceding paragraphs describe the projected percentage change by administrative area. It is also useful to look at the existing and projected age structure of the different areas. Figure 6a, Figure 6b, Figure 7a and Figure 7b show the proportion of the population aged 0-15, 16-64 and 65+ in 2004 and 2024 for council and NHS board areas respectively. The projected proportion of the population of Scotland aged 65 and over increases from 16 per cent in 2004 to 23 per cent in 2024. The pattern is similar in nearly all areas. Amongst council areas in 2004, Dumfries & Galloway (20 per cent) has the highest proportion of its population aged 65 and over and West Lothian the lowest (12 per cent). The projected picture by 2024 shows Dumfries & Galloway still highest at 31 per cent but the cities Edinburgh (17 per cent) and Glasgow (16 per cent) now have lower projected proportions of their populations aged 65 and over than West Lothian (18 per cent).

2.4.11 For NHS board areas a comparable pattern can be seen. In 2004, Dumfries & Galloway NHS board area has the highest proportion of its population aged 65 and over (20 per cent) and it is still projected to have the highest proportion by 2024 (31 per cent). The area with the lowest proportion of its population aged 65 and over in 2004 is Shetland and in 2024 is Lothian. The proportion of Lothian's population aged 65 and over has increased from 15 per cen to 19 per cent and Shetland's has increase from 15 per cent to 28 per cent between 2004 and 2024. A key point from all four charts is that the population in nearly all areas is projected to age by 2024.

Footnote

1. Includes the change in women’s state pension age from 60 to 65 between 2010 and 2024.

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