by Robert E. Wright

Key Facts

  • At 5,347,600, the 2014 population of Scotland is 8.3% of the UK and 1.1% of the EU.

  • Scotland is a low growth country, demographically, averaging 0.1% growth annually over the century to 2014.

  • Scotland's fertility rate (1.62) is below the UK but above the EU average.

  • Scotland is an "excess mortality"country - with lower life expectancy than should be expected given its socio-economic circumstances.

  • Population shares for different age groups are similar for Scotland, the UK and EU.

  • In 1951, life expectancy at birth was 68.7 years for women and 64.4 years for men. By 2007, it had risen to 79.7 years for women and 74.8 years for men.

  • Beginning around the year 2000, net-migration became positive. Historically high levels of net-migration of +25-30,000 people per year were achieved by mid-decade. This increase was primarily driven by immigrants from the ten countries, mostly central European nations, that joined the European Union in 2004.

  • Population projections suggest that the UK will increase by 21.5% in the period 2014 to 2054, which means an addition of nearly 14 million people. The projections suggest that the population of Scotland is expected to grow by only 7.8% in the same period, or by less than half a million people. If accurate, the Scottish share of the total UK population will fall from 8.3% to 7.3%.

For the full chapter, please see: Wright, R.E. (2017) The Changing Scottish Population. In Gibb, K., Maclennan, D., McNulty, K., & Comerford, M. (eds) Scottish Economy - A Living Book. London: Routledge. Available via this link.


Figure 5.1: Scotland's Population Over Time
- All data comes from the National Records of Scotland's population estimates time series dataset

Figure 5.2: Total Fertility Rate
- Data comes from the National Records of Scotland the the ONS

Figure 5.3: Life Expectancy at Birth
- All data comes from the Office of National Statistic's life expectancy projections (2014-Based) data

Figure 5.4: Net Migration in Scotland (1951-2015) set
- All data comes from the National Records of Scotland's migration page

Figure 5.5: Net-migration Rates (per 10,000 population)
- Data for Scotland's population and migration estimates comes from NRS and data for the UK comes from the ONS

Population Estimates to 2039
- Data comes from the Scottish National Record's 2014 Population Projection with alternative variables

Figure 5.7: Percentage Change of Population by Age Group, from 2017-2050
- All data comes from the Office of National Statistic's 2014-Based Population Projections