Population expected to rise and age
20 October 2005
Scotland’s population is projected to rise over the next 15 years before falling slowly, according to figures in the report, Projected Population of Scotland (2004-based)
, issued today by the Registrar General for Scotland. The population is not projected to fall below 5 million until 2036, rather than 2017 as the last projection suggested.
Commenting on the results, the Registrar General Duncan Macniven said:
"Scotland’s population is projected to rise over the next 15 years – thanks to slightly more births, slightly fewer deaths and more people coming to Scotland than leaving. But we will still be an ageing nation, because our birth rate has declined since the 1980s. And our population is likely to fall from 2020, while the rest of the UK is on a rising trend."
The key points in the report are:
the population of Scotland is projected to rise, peaking at just over 5.1 million in 2019 and then slowly declining, falling below 5 million in 2036 and reaching 4.86 million by 2044;
the number of children aged under 16 is projected to decrease by 15 per cent from 0.94 million in 2004 to 0.79 million by 2031;
the number of people of working age [Footnote 1
] is projected to fall by 7 per cent from 3.18 million in 2004 to 2.96 million in 2031;
the number of people of pensionable age [Footnote 1
] is projected to rise by 35 per cent from 0.97 million in 2004 to 1.31 million in 2031;
the number of people aged 75 and over is projected to rise by 75 per cent from 0.37 million in 2004 to 0.65 million by 2031;
while Scotland’s population is projected to fall from 2019, the populations of the other three countries in the UK are projected to rise to 2031, and continue rising except for Northern Ireland where the population is projected to peak in 2033 and then slowly decline;
Italy, Germany and seven of the new accession states in eastern Europe are amongst the countries with a projected population decline which exceeds Scotland’s over the next 30 years.
The new projections suggest a higher population than the previous ones – because in recent years there have been increases in the number of births, a fall in the number of deaths and a rise in the number of people migrating to Scotland. These 3 factors combine to give a higher starting-point for the new projections and, since the projections are based on past trends, also give a slightly more positive view of the future. As a result, population decline is deferred to the 2020s. The difference in projected age structure between the two sets of projections is small, with slightly fewer people of pensionable age and an increase in the working age population in 2031.
So the population is now projected to fall below 5 million about 2036 rather than 2017 – although the precise point at which the projected population reaches a particular level is very sensitive to relatively small changes in the underlying assumptions.
Notes to News Editors
1. This is a National Statistics publication. National Statistics are produced to high professional standards set out in the National Statistics Code of Practice. They undergo regular quality assurance reviews to ensure that they meet customer needs. They are produced free from any political interference.
2. The Government Actuary’s Department (GAD) normally produces population projections for the UK and its constituent countries every two years, on behalf of the Registrars General for Scotland, England and Wales, and Northern Ireland. The last full set of projections was based on the mid-year population estimate for 2002, though a 2003-based interim projection was published on 30 September 2004 following revisions which were made for England & Wales in the light of adjustments made to the 2001 Census results.
3. The projections show what happens if assumptions made about future fertility, mortality and migration are realised. The assumptions are based largely on past trends in these factors, and do not take account of any future changes as a result of policy initiatives.
4. The results of the projections become more uncertain the further ahead they are projected. Therefore the results concentrate on the period up to 2031, though longer-term projections to 2074 are available, as well as seven variant projections (alternative plausible projections) using alternative assumptions which help to put the principal long-term projections into context. Further variants will be published at the end of November on GAD’s website.
5. Projections for council and health board areas will be published on 20 December 2005. The next set of national projections, based on the 2006 population estimates, will be published in 2007.
6. Corresponding information for the United Kingdom and its constituent countries is available from the GAD website.
7. More detailed breakdowns of the results by age and sex, are available from GROS customer services or from the GAD website.
8. For further information please contact Statistics Customer Services using our Contact Form.
1. Note that between 2010 and 2020 the pensionable age for women rises from 60 to 65, and the figures take account of this.