How many non-British nationals are living in Scotland, and how has that changed in the year since the EU Referendum?

Today, National Records of Scotland released updated population estimates by country of birth and nationality from the Annual Population Survey (APS). These statistics provide information on the number of people living in Scotland and allow us to understand the number of residents born abroad and those with a non-British nationality. The latest data relates to July 2016 to June 2017, so we can look at how Scotland’s population has changed since the EU Referendum in June 2016.

Over the period July 2015 to June 2016 (the year preceding the referendum), there were estimated to be 337,000 non-British nationals living in Scotland, accounting for 6.4% of the population. Between July 2016 and June 2017 (the year after the referendum), there were 355,000 non-British nationals living in Scotland, accounting for 6.7% of the population. This was not a statistically significant change.

Between the year ending June 2016 and the year ending June 2017, it is estimated that the number of EU nationals living in Scotland increased by 9.5% to 219,000. Over the same period, the number of non-EU nationals is estimated to have decreased by 0.7% to 135,000. Neither of these changes were statistically significant.

Population 1

To put these numbers in context, between the year ending December 2015 and the year ending December 2016 the number of non-British nationals in Scotland increased by 14.2% from 295,000 to 337,000, with the EU and non-EU totals increasing by 28,000 and 15,000 respectively. All three of those changes were statistically significant increases. This shows that while the number of non-British nationals living in Scotland is still increasing, the rate of increase is slowing.

Of the 355,000 non-British nationals living in Scotland over the period July 2016 to June 2017, the most common nationality was Polish. It is estimated that there were 100,000 Polish nationals living in Scotland, accounting for 28% of the non-British population and 46% of the EU national population in Scotland. Polish was also the most common nationality in the year ending June 2016, when Polish nationals made up 25% of the non-British population and 43% of the EU national population of Scotland.

Population 2

Things to note

This article considers international residents in Scotland based on their nationality, as stated by respondents when they were interviewed as part of the Annual Population Survey. It should be noted that a person’s nationality can change over time, for example people may come to Scotland as an overseas national and then later apply for British citizenship. Population estimates by country of birth (which cannot change) are also available on the NRS website.

Estimates of the non-UK born and non-British nationals population living in Scotland (often referred to as migrant stocks data) are not directly comparable with estimates of long-term international migration (migrant flows data). For statistics relating to migrant flows (the number of migrants moving to or from Scotland over a period of time) please visit the NRS migration tables.

Further information

If you would like to explore the latest data included in this article, including estimates for Scotland’s council areas, please visit the Population by Country of Birth and Nationality section on the NRS website.

Daniel Burns

Assistant Statistician

National Records of Scotland

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