Scotland's population is projected to increase and age

A National Statistics Publication for Scotland.

The population of Scotland is projected to continue increasing and ageing, according to new figures published today by National Records of Scotland.

The National Population Projections for Scotland are based on the latest population estimates for 2016 and provide an indication of the future size and age structure of Scotland’s population based on a set of assumptions about future fertility, mortality and migration.

Tim Ellis, the Registrar General of Scotland, said:

“The latest population projections show Scotland’s population is projected to continue to increase and to age over the next 25 years.

“The rise in population is driven by projected migration into Scotland both from rest of the UK and from overseas, while the number of deaths is projected to exceed the number of births every year.

“Over the period we also expect to see the number of people of pensionable age increase by 25 per cent, while the number of  people of working age will increase by one per cent and the number of children will decrease by two per cent.”

The population of Scotland is projected to rise from 5.40 million in 2016 to 5.58 million in 2026, and to continue to rise to 5.69 million in 2041 – an increase of 5% over the 25 year period.

All of the projected increase in Scotland’s population over the next 10 years is due to net in-migration to Scotland; 58% of net in-migration is projected to come from overseas, with 42% from the rest of the UK.

Natural change (the number of births minus the number of deaths) is projected to be negative in each year of the projection. By 2041 it is projected that there will be over 10 thousand more deaths than births each year.

The population is also projected to age, with people aged 75 and over projected to be the fastest growing age group in Scotland. The number of people aged 75 and over is projected to increase by 27% over the next ten years and increase by 79% over the next 25 years to 2041.

Between 2016 and 2041, the population of pensionable age is projected to rise from 1.05 million to 1.32 million, an increase of 25%, while the number of children is projected to decrease from 0.92 million to 0.90 million (reduction of 2%) over the same period. This compares to an increase in the working age population from 3.43 million in 2016 to a peak of 3.59 million in 2028 (an increase of 5%). It is then projected to decline to 3.47 million by 2041. Overall there is a 1% projected increase in people of working age over the 25 year period.


  1. The National Records of Scotland (NRS) is responsible for producing statistics on Scotland’s population and the Office for National Statistics produce projections for Scotland on behalf of NRS.
  2. Today’s report gives projected population figures for Scotland. The full publication can be downloaded from National Population Projections section of the NRS website. More information on the National Population Projections for the United Kingdom are available from the ONS website.
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