Scotland's Demographics


Scotland’s population is at its highest ever level, 5.463,300 (on June 2019). In recent years, most of the population increase in Scotland has been due to net in-migration.  If current trends continue, all of the projected increase in Scotland’s population will be due to net inward migration to Scotland from the rest of the UK and overseas. 

Scotland also faces significant challenges in relation to its ageing population.  According to NRS 2019-based population estimates, just under one in five people (19%) in Scotland were aged 65 and over.  The population aged 0 – 15 years has seen the largest percentage decrease due to fewer birth every year sine 2009.  Population change varies across Scotland’s council areas.  Areas facing depopulation are mainly island and rural areas, as well as areas in the west. 


The Scottish Government Programme for Government 2020/21 has committed to work closely with partners to develop and publish a Population Strategy in early 2021.  This will set out Scotland’s demographic challenge and the actions that will be taken to address it.  Councils are keenly aware of the projected social and economic impacts of depopulation in particular areas, and the challenges of dealing with population growth in others.  COSLA will ensure that Scottish Local Government in fully involved in the development of the Population Strategy. 





 Updated: 12/11/20