Population and Demographics

The estimated population of Scotland now stands at 5,373,000 – its highest ever – with recent projections from NRS suggesting that the population will rise to 5.7 million by 2039.  However, despite this positive trajectory, Scotland as a whole is facing a significant demographic challenge.  The proportion of elderly people is increasing as a proportion of the total population and this is resulting in increased pressures on key public services, with fewer people of working age to provide these services and fewer taxpayers to fund them.  Migration plays a very important role in offsetting these challenges and is a key reason why Scottish local government is supportive of policies to grow our migrant population. 

It should however be pointed out that the demographic position of local authorities across Scotland is not homogenous.  Some have a population that is projected to increase overall, and some areas are even likely to experience the growth of their working age population as a proportion of the whole.  Areas in which both of these are increasing are in the strongest demographic position, whilst areas where both are decreasing are in the weakest position and are likely to experience particular challenges. 

The following table developed by colleagues at NRS illustrates how each local authority is faring and give a brief prognosis of the challenges likely to be faced in each case.