Population projections for Scottish areas
Statistical News Release
Scotland’s projected population increase is likely to be unevenly spread across the country, according to a report issued today by the Registrar General for Scotland.
Commenting on the report, NRS Chief Executive and Registrar General Tim Ellis said:
“These new figures from National Records of Scotland show that over the next 25 years, if current trends continue, the population of Scotland is projected to increase by about seven per cent. But this varies across the country, with some areas like City of Edinburgh and Aberdeen City council areas projected to have relatively large increases compared with other large urban areas such as Glasgow City and Dundee City, while in some areas the population is projected to fall.”
Statistics published today by the National Records of Scotland (NRS) show the population of Scotland is projected to rise by seven per cent over the next 25 years, from 5.35 million in 2014 to 5.70 million by 2039, and continue to rise into the future. This pattern is not expected to be experienced in all areas of Scotland.
The report provides projections for the 25 year period 2014 to 2039. It includes population projections for council, NHS Board, Strategic Development Plan, and National Park areas. A summary of the projected population at five year intervals can be found in Table 1.
The populations of 21 of the 32 council areas in Scotland are projected to increase, as shown in Figure 1. The council areas projected to show the largest relative increases over this period are the urban councils of City of Edinburgh (21 per cent), Aberdeen City (17 per cent), and their surrounding councils Midlothian (26 per cent), Aberdeenshire (20 per cent), and East Lothian (18 per cent).
Scotland’s population is projected to age and this is true for all administrative areas to a greater or lesser extent. By 2039, the number of children aged 0 to 15 is projected to increase in 12 council areas, the population of working age is projected to increase in 12 council areas, and the population of pensionable age1 and over is projected to increase in all council areas.
As the population of Scotland ages, larger increases are projected for older age groups. The population aged 75 and over is projected to increase in all council areas across Scotland between 2014 and 2039, as shown in Figure 1.
Figure 1: Projected percentage change in total population and population aged 75 and over by council area, 2014 to 2039
The report shows what happens under certain assumptions about future fertility, mortality and migration. The assumptions are based largely on past trends and although they will reflect past policy and economic impacts, they do not take account of future changes that may occur as a result of policy initiatives at a local or national level. They do not take account of any future effects due to the recent vote to leave the European Union.
Projections are uncertain and become increasingly so the further they are carried forward in time. In addition to the principal projection, seven variant projections have been produced based on alternative, but generally plausible, assumptions of future fertility, mortality and net migration
Table 1: Projected Population of Scotland (2014-based) by Scottish area, 2014 to 2039
 Working age and pensionable age and over populations are based on State Pension Age for a given year, as set out in the 2014 Pensions Act. Between 2014 and 2018, the state pension age will rise from 62 to 65 for women. Then between 2019 and 2020, it will rise from 65 years to 66 years for both men and women. A further rise in state pension age to 67 will take place between 2026 and 2028. Between 2044 and 2046, state pension age will increase from 67 to 68. The UK Government plan to review state pension age every five years in line with life expectancy and other factors.
- The National Records of Scotland is responsible for producing statistics on Scotland’s population. This is a National Statistics publication. National Statistics are produced to high professional standards set out in the Code of Practice for Official Statistics. They undergo regular quality assurance reviews to ensure that they meet customer needs. They are produced free from any political interference. Population projections were recently assessed by the UK Statistics Authority and are as designated by them as National Statistics.
- Today’s report gives projected population figures for council, NHS Board, Strategic Development Plan and National Park areas in Scotland. The full publication (and previous years population projections) can be downloaded from the Sub-National Population Projections section of the National Records of Scotland website. More information on the National Population Projections for the United Kingdom are available from the Office for National Statistics website.
- National population projections are prepared by the Office for National Statistics on behalf of the administrations for England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The assumptions are agreed in liaison with the devolved administrations, following consultation with key users of projections in each country and advice from an expert advisory panel. The 2014-based National Population Projections were announced in a news release issued on 29 October 2015 and the results can be found on the National Records for Scotland website. Projected populations for areas of Scotland, consistent with the national projections, have been prepared by the National Records of Scotland and are the subject of this news release.
- Projections are produced every two years. The latest projection is based on the mid-year population estimates for 2014 and replaces the previous 2012-based sub-national population projections. The projections are the result of assumptions made about future fertility, mortality and migration patterns based on past trends. Therefore the projections are not a prediction of what will happen, but simply a projection of what would be the outcome on the basis of particular assumptions. We have also improved the methodology used to produce the projections and more information is available in the methodology section on the National Records of Scotland website.
- The projections for the areas of Scotland summarised in this booklet are also available by single year of age and sex for each year of the projection period, 2014 to 2039, from the detailed tables section on the National Records of Scotland website
- Because the projections are based on uncertain information about the number of births, deaths and migrants far in the future, seven variant projections have been published along with the principal projection. These variant projections are based on alternative assumptions of future fertility, mortality and migration, and give users an indication of the inherent uncertainty of demographic behaviour, especially for the long-term projections. Under the majority of the alternative scenarios illustrated by the seven available variant projections Scotland's population is projected to increase between 2014 and 2039; only the zero outwith Scotland migration variant projects a decrease in Scotland's population.
- Further statistics on Scotland’s population can be accessed in the Statistics section of the National Records of Scotland website.
- Official statistics are produced by professionally independent statistical staff. General information about population statistics can be accessed in the About our Statistics section of the National Records of Scotland website.
Media enquiries relating solely to the statistics should be directed to:
Esta Clark 0131 314 4298, mailto:Esta.Clark@NRScotland.gov.uk
Further information about the statistics is available from:
Statistics Customer Services
National Records of Scotland
Tel: 0131 314 4299