Number of Centenarians in Scotland at Near Record Level

A National Statistics publication for Scotland

The number of people in Scotland living for more than a century has increased over the last 10 years.

Figures published today by the National Records of Scotland estimate that in 2015 there were 900 centenarians living in Scotland, an increase of 67 per cent from the estimate of 540 in 2005.

Tim Ellis, the Chief Executive of National Records of Scotland, said:

“When the current population of centenarians in Scotland was born, during or before the First World War, living to 100 years old was very uncommon.

“However, this has changed since the beginning of the 21st century when estimates showed there were around 500 people aged 100 years old and over in Scotland. These latest figures from National Records of Scotland show that the number of centenarians has increased by more than two thirds in the last ten years.”

The overwhelming majority of centenarians are women. In 2015, women accounted for 780 of Scotland’s centenarians (87 per cent) while 120 men had reached the milestone. Although the male population aged 90 to 99 increased from 2014 to 2015, seven out of every ten people in their 90s are women (71 per cent).

Since 2005, the number of centenarians relative to the rest of the population has increased to 1.7 centenarians for every 10,000 people in the total population in 2015.

The number of men aged 90 to 99 increased from 6,360 to 11,300 between 2005 and 2015, an increase of 78 per cent. The number of females aged 90 to 99 increased from 21,630 to 27,590 during the same period, an increase of 28 per cent.

Also published today are experimental statistics for the number of people aged 90+ for council areas in Scotland. South Ayrshire had the highest proportion of centenarians and Shetland Islands had the lowest. City of Edinburgh had the highest absolute number of centenarians and Orkney Islands and Shetland Islands had the lowest.

Notes to editors

  1. There is no register of centenarians, so the figures are estimates based on population information rolled forward from the 2011 Census. Therefore we do not know who the oldest person in Scotland is.
  2. NRS uses ‘age at death’ data to build up a profile of the number of elderly people in Scotland. For example, if someone died in 2015 aged 105, it would mean that he/she was alive and aged 104 in 2014 and 103 in 2013 etc. By collating ‘age at death’ data for a series of years, it becomes possible to make a good estimate of the number of people of a given age alive in any particular year.
  3. To make estimates for 2015, it is not possible to use death data. An average of the previous five years’ age profiles is used to produce an estimate of the number of deaths in the most recent year.
  4. These estimates are quality assured against figures compiled from Department for Work and Pensions databases.
  5. The full report, “Centenarians in Scotland 2005 to 2015”, is available in the Centenarians section of the National Records of Scotland (NRS) website.
  6. The estimates in the “Centenarians in Scotland 2005-2015” report are National Statistics which means they have been assessed by the UK Statistics Authority. More information is available in the letter of confirmation as National Statistics and in the assessment report on the UK Statistics Authority website.
  7. The report “Sub-national Population Estimates for ages 90 and over, 2005 – 2015” is also published today and is classified as ‘experimental statistics: data being developed’ and is available on the NRS website. Feedback on the method and results are welcomed.


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