Demographic information about Scotland’s population

Today we’ve published ‘Scotland’s Population 2018 – The Registrar General’s Annual Review of Demographic Trends’, and here our statisticians explain the key findings in the report.

How is Scotland’s population changing?

Scotland’s population has continued to increase and now stands at a record high of 5.44 million. Since 2008, Scotland’s population has increased by 4.5%.

Although Scotland’s population increased by 0.2% over the last year, the rate of population growth has slowed for the second year running. This is due to a reduction in overall net migration, fewer births and a greater number of deaths.

Why has our population increased?

Migration is the main reason for Scotland’s population increase. In the latest year to mid-2018, 20,900 more people came to Scotland than left;+10,900 people from overseas and +10,000 people from the rest of the UK. Although it remains positive, net migration has decreased over the past two years.

How does the population vary across Scotland?

Over the last year from July 2017 to June 2018, the population increased in 18 council areas of Scotland while 14 council areas experienced a decrease in their population. The largest percentage increase was in Midlothian, where the population grew by 1.4% in the past year. The largest decrease over the past year was in Inverclyde, where the population fell by 0.8%.

You can explore the data for your local area using our Council Area Profiles and interactive data visualisations.

Is Scotland’s population ageing?

People in Scotland are living longer than they were in the past. This, combined with the fact that fertility rates are much lower than they were, means that older people make up a growing proportion of the population.

In mid-2018, just under one in five people (19%) in Scotland were aged 65 and over, compared with 16% in mid-2008. The population aged 16 to 64, which consists of those most likely to be of working age, has decreased from 66% to 64% over the last 10 years.

Why has life expectancy stalled in recent years?

Between 2012-2014 and 2015-2017, life expectancy has stopped improving and has fallen slightly for both males (77.0 years) and females (81.1 years) in 2015-2017.

The slowdown in life expectancy improvement is also happening for the UK as a whole as well as in several other European countries, for example, France and Spain. The trend is not universal however with life expectancy in countries such as Poland and Belgium continuing to increase.

To read more about life expectancy in Scotland, please see our recent blog post.

For the first time this year we have published healthy life expectancy data

This data shows that females born in Scotland in 2015-2017 could expect to spend 62.7 years (77.3% of their lives) in good health followed by 18.4 years in poor health: a total life expectancy of 81.1 years. Males could expect to spend 62.3 years (80.9% of their lives) in good health and then 14.7 further years in poor health until they reached 77 years of age.

How are Scottish households changing?

The number of households is increasing at a faster rate than the population. There were 2.48 million households in 2018 with 2.15 people per household. Average household size continues to slowly decrease, as the number of households increases at a faster rate than the population. One person households continue to be the most common type in Scotland (over one third of all households). This is partly because Scotland’s population is ageing, as older people are more likely to live alone or in smaller households.

What information do we have about births, deaths and marriages in Scotland?

The number of births in Scotland continued to fall in 2018. There were 51,308 births registered in Scotland in 2018, 3% fewer than in 2017 and the lowest annual total since 2002.

There were 27,525 marriages in 2018, a decrease of 3% on 2017. Of these, 979 were same sex marriages. There were 65 civil partnerships, five fewer than the previous year.

There were 190 stillbirths (3.7 per 1,000 live and still births), representing the lowest stillbirth rate ever recorded. There were 163 infant deaths (3.2 per 1,000 live births) – equalling the previous lowest ever infant death rate which was recorded in 2015.

Our infographic report provides more information on demographic changes in Scotland.

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