Scotland's population increasing

Scotland’s population continued to increase between 2015 and 2016.

Scotland’s population continued to increase between 2015 and 2016.

Statistics published today by the National Records of Scotland (NRS) show that the estimated population of Scotland was 5,404,700 at 30 June 2016, which is the highest level recorded.

The figures show a rise of 31,700 (0.6%) people over the year since 30 June 2015.

Why has Scotland’s population increased?

The increase in Scotland’s population over the last year has been driven by migration. Migration to Scotland exceeded migration from Scotland by 31,700 people. This included a net increase of 22,900 people from overseas and 8,800 from the rest of the UK.

The number of deaths exceeded the number of births by 800, while other changes (such as in the prison population, and changes in the number of armed forces stationed in Scotland) resulted in an increase of 800 people.

How do the figures compare with the previous year?

The most recent increase in Scotland’s population of 31,700 (0.6%) compares with an increase of 25,400 (0.5%) in the previous year to 30 June 2015.
The main reason for the higher population increase is that net migration to Scotland increased from 28,000 in 2014-15 to 31,700 in 2015-16.

Natural change (births minus deaths) resulted in a loss of 800 people in the year to 30 June 2016, compared with a loss of 2,000 in the previous year. The year-on-year change was driven by 1,800 fewer deaths, partially offset by 600 fewer births.


1. The National Records of Scotland (NRS) is a non-ministerial department of the devolved Scottish Administration. It is responsible for producing statistics on Scotland’s population.
2. Today’s report gives estimated population figures for the whole of Scotland and for Council and NHS Board areas. The full publication (including Council and NHS Board area breakdowns) and previous years’ population estimates can be downloaded from Mid-Year Population Estimates section of the NRS website.
3. An infographic supplement and an interactive data visualisation accompanying the main publication can be accessed from the Infographics and Visualisations sections of the NRS website.
4. Today NRS have also published Demographic and Census profiles of European Economic Area (EEA) born residents in Scotland. These provide information and key statistics on EEA born residents across Scotland’s council areas.
5. The period covered by these statistics is from 1 July 2015 to 30 June 2016 and therefore refer to the period prior to the referendum on European Union membership (apart from one week).
6. It should be noted that the data sources used by NRS to estimate migration at council area level do not allow the country or group of countries that overseas migrants come from to be identified.
7. Information about the methodology and quality, including strengths and weaknesses, of the statistics can be found in the Mid-year Estimates for Scotland Methodology Guide.
8. Population estimates for the UK as a whole will be published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) in June 2017. Further details can be found on the ONS website.
9. Further statistics on Scotland’s population can be accessed in the Statistics section of the NRS website.
10. The UK Statistics Authority (UKSA) has designated this publication as National Statistics, in line with the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007 and signifying compliance with the Code of Practice for Official Statistics.

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