Each year since 1855, National Records of Scotland has published “Scotland’s Population”, providing an annual overview of the latest demographic trends. In this post, statistician Daniel Burns summarises the latest migration trends in Scotland.

Scotland’s population is at its highest recorded level of 5.4 million, growing by 5% over the past ten years. This increase has been driven by migration.

Before the turn of the century, Scotland was predominantly a country of net out-migration, with more people leaving to live elsewhere than moving to live in Scotland. A few years of net in-migration were first recorded in the early 1990’s. Since 2001, Scotland has been in a period of net in-migration with more people moving to live in Scotland than leaving. In the year to 30th June 2016, the number of people moving to Scotland exceeded the number leaving by around 31,700 (up 3,700 on the year previous).

Net MigrationThe population of Scotland is ageing. Over the next 25 years, there is a projected increase of 28% in the number of pensioners in Scotland, compared to an increase of just 1% in the size of the working age population. This pattern of ageing reflects the increases in life expectancy as people in Scotland are now living longer than they ever have done before.

The effects of these changes can be mitigated against by continued inward migration to Scotland, as migrants tend to be younger people moving here for work or higher education. In the year to 30th June 2016, 52% of the people moving to Scotland were between 18 and 32 years of age.

Migration by single year of ageIf you would like to find out more, detailed migration tables are available on our website. Further commentary on our latest statistics can be found in the Registrar General’s Annual Review of Demographic Trends for 2016, which was published on the 2nd of August.

Daniel Burns

Assistant Statistician

National Records of Scotland

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