Scotland’s population hits record high

Scotland’s population has continued to rise to record levels, according to new statistics.

Figures published by National Records of Scotland (NRS) show the country’s population grew by 13,300 people – 0.2% – to 5.44 million over the year to June 30 2018.

Migration was given as the main reason for the increase, with 20,900 more immigrants than those leaving.

These were from both overseas and the rest of the UK over the year to mid-2018.

Natural change – births minus deaths – did not contribute to Scotland’s population growth.

There were 7,700 more deaths than births over the same period, which is the largest natural decrease on record.

Paul Lowe, chief executive of NRS, said: “Scotland’s population continued to increase over the year, with a record high of 5.44 million people now living in Scotland.

“Migration continues to be the main driver of Scotland’s population growth – with more people coming to Scotland than leaving.

“Whilst the population has increased, the rate of population growth has slowed as a result of a reduction in net migration and more deaths than births in the last year.

“During this time we have seen a mixed picture regarding population growth with 18 of Scotland’s council areas seeing an increase in population compared to 14, mostly rural or island, council areas which experienced depopulation, three more than the previous year.”

Winter weather Dec 17th 2017
Migration Minister Ben Macpherson says Scotland faces significant demographic challenges (John Linton/PA)

Although Scotland’s population increased by 0.2% over the year, the rate of population growth has slowed for the second year running.

This was blamed on a drop in overall net migration – down 3,000 people from the year to mid-2017.

Experts said this fall was mainly due to more people leaving Scotland to move overseas, an increase in the number of deaths – 2,700 more than the previous 12 months – and 1,200 fewer births than the same period to mid-2017.

Migration Minister Ben Macpherson said: “Despite Scotland’s population reaching a record high, these statistics starkly illustrate the significant demographic challenges that we are facing.

“All of our population growth over the next 25 years is projected to come from migration yet this growth, and in turn our future prosperity, is under threat due to the UK Government’s ‘hostile environment’ immigration policies and their determination to end freedom of movement.

“It is increasingly vital for Scotland to have a tailored migration system, which values all skills, works for business and supports public services across the country.”

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