Scotland's population at its highest ever

Published on Thursday, 08 August 2013 10:59
Written by Vicki Mitchem

Scotland's population continues to rise and reached its highest ever total in 2012. Statistics published today by the National Records of Scotland (NRS) show that the estimated population of Scotland was 5,313,600 in mid-2012, the highest ever.

The figures, based on 2011 Census data, show a rise of 18,200 people since Census Day on 27 March 2011.

Commenting on the publication of 'Mid-2011 and Mid-2012 Population Estimates Scotland', NRS Chief Executive Tim Ellis said:

"Scotland's population has continued to grow, reaching its highest ever level last year. The increase from the Census in 2011 to end June 2012 was 18,200.

"The rise was because there were over 6,000 more births than deaths and a net in-flow of 15,200 more people coming to Scotland than leaving.

"Most of this net migration increase is from people coming to Scotland from overseas rather than from the rest of the UK. Overall however fewer people came to Scotland from overseas and more people left to go overseas in the year to mid-2012, than in the previous year."

Main findings

  • The estimated population of Scotland on 30 June 2012 was 5,313,600, an increase of 13,700 from the previous year and of 18,200 from Census Day on 27 March 2011.
  • There were 2,577,140 males and 2,736,460 females. The number of both males and females was the highest ever.
  • The population increased because 6,000 more people were born than died, and because immigration exceeded emigration by 15,200 between Census Day and 30 June 2012. Other minor changes, such as in armed forces, resulted in a loss of 3,000 people.
  • The net migration gain of 15,200 people includes net gains of 14,300 people from overseas and 900 people from the rest of the UK. Between Census Day and mid-2012, 43,400 people came to Scotland from overseas and 29,100 left Scotland to go overseas. The net migration gain of 14,300 represents about 1 in 300 (0.3 per cent) of the total population. Fewer people came to Scotland from overseas and more people left to go overseas in the year to mid-2012 compared with the previous full year, a net gain of 9,700 compared with 25,400.
  • Between Census Day and mid-2012, 55,600 people came to Scotland from England, Wales and Northern Ireland and 54,700 left Scotland to go in the opposite direction. The net gain of 900 from the rest of the UK in the 15 month period was lower than recent annual figures due to the timing of students leaving Scotland at the end of their courses between Census Day and mid-year 2011. There has not been much change in the net gain to Scotland from the rest of the UK in the last two full year periods at 2,900 and 3,000 respectively.
  • Among Council areas, between Census Day and mid-2012, the City of Edinburgh, Midlothian and East Lothian each had the largest percentage population increase at +1.2 per cent, followed by Aberdeenshire (+1.1 per cent) and Aberdeen City (+1.0 per cent). Argyll & Bute had the largest percentage population decrease at -2.2 per cent, followed by Inverclyde (-1.0 per cent) and Moray (-0.6 per cent).
  • Among NHS Board areas, Lothian had the largest percentage population increase (+1.0 per cent), followed by Orkney (+0.9 per cent) and Grampian (+0.8 per cent). Several NHS Boards experienced a fall in population with Western Isles and Highland having the largest decrease at -0.4 per cent, followed by Dumfries & Galloway (-0.3 per cent), Borders (-0.1 per cent) and Ayrshire & Arran (-0.1 per cent).
  • The median age (the age at which half the population is older and half is younger) of the population in Scotland was 41.
  • The median age was lower in big city areas (36 in Aberdeen City, Glasgow City and the City of Edinburgh) than in more rural areas (47 in Argyll & Bute and 46 in Dumfries & Galloway, Eilean Siar and Scottish Borders).
  • On average, in mid-2012, there were 68 people per square kilometre in Scotland, ranging from 9 people per square kilometre in Eilean Siar and Highland to 3,407 people per square kilometre in Glasgow City Council area. The average population density of the UK at mid-2012 was 263 people per square kilometre.

Source: Scottish Government

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