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Scotland's Population

Published: 02 Aug 2017 09:32

Registrar General publishes annual review of demographic trends

National Records of Scotland (NRS) today publishedScotland’s Population 2016 – the Registrar General’s Annual Review of Demographic Trends’.

The Annual Review has been published every year since 1855 and paints a picture of a changing Scotland. It highlights demographic data published over the year including about population, life expectancy, migration, households and housing.

Tim Ellis, the Registrar General of Scotland, said:

“Scotland’s population has grown five per cent over the last decade to a record 5.4 million.  The majority of this growth has been due to migration, as natural change (births minus deaths) has not contributed significantly to Scotland’s population growth. 

“In the year to 30 June 2016, around 32,000 more people came to Scotland than left.  Of these, 23,000 people were from overseas and 9,000 people were from the rest of the UK. More than half of those who came to Scotland from the rest of the UK or overseas are between 18 and 32 years old.

“Scotland’s population has continued to age over the past decade, with the greatest increases in the population in the older age groups. Over the next 25 years, there is a projected increase of 28% in the number of pensioners in Scotland, compared to an increase of just 1% in the number of people of working age. This has implications for funding allocations, tax revenues, pensions, education, health and social care provision.”

The report also includes new data about births, adoptions, deaths, marriages and civil partnerships registered in Scotland in 2016. It shows:

  • 54,488 births were registered in Scotland in 2016, 1.1% fewer births than in 2015 and the lowest annual total since 2005.
  • The average age of mothers has increased to 30.3 compared with 26.0 in 1975. The average age of fathers has increased from 28.4 in 1975 to 32.9 in 2016.
  • 56,728 deaths were registered in Scotland in 2016, 1.5% fewer than in 2015.
  • Deaths from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease have more than doubled since 2000 and have now overtaken deaths from cerebrovascular disease. This is partly because people are living longer, and fewer people are dying from other conditions such as circulatory diseases. However, the single biggest cause of death is still cancer, which has risen by 6% between 2000 and 2016. There were 29,229 marriages registered in Scotland in 2016. Of these, 998 were same-sex marriages.



  1. The key points from the report can be found here.
  1. The report can be viewed in full online at: 
  1. An infographic booklet, which summaries the main trends from this report, is available online at:
  1. Vital events reference tables are available at:
  1. Official statistics are produced by professionally independent statistical staff. National Records of Scotland’s statistics can be accessed at: