Scotland has a population of 5,168,000 (2008 estimate). Covering an area of 78,782km² (30,341mi²), Scotland has a population density of 65.6 inhabitants per square kilometer (170/sq mi). Around 70% of the country's population live in the Central Lowlands — a broad, fertile valley stretching in a northeast-southwest orientation between the cities of Edinburgh and Glasgow, and including major settlements such as Paisley, Stirling, Falkirk, Perth and Dundee. Other concentrations of population include the northeast coast of Scotland, principally the regions around the cities of Aberdeen and Inverness. The Highlands of Scotland have the lowest population density at 8 inhabitants per square kilometer (21/sq mi). The City of Glasgow has the highest population density at 3,292 inhabitants per square kilometer (8,526/sq mi).
Estimating the population of Scotland, as well as recording births, deaths and marriages in Scotland is overseen by the General Register Office for Scotland (GROS), headed by the Registrar-General for Scotland. Under the terms of the Registration of Births, Deaths and Marriages (Scotland) Act 1965, the Registrar-General must present an annual report of demographic trends to Scottish Ministers (previously the Secretary of State for Scotland prior to devolution). In conjunction with the rest of the United Kingdom a decadal census of population is carried out — the last one being 2001, the next taking place in 2011.
Figures from the decennial Census are as follows:
According to the annual estimates of the General Register Office of Scotland, in 2006, Scotland had a total resident population of 5,116,900 - an increase of 22,100 on the previous year and an increase of nearly 55,000 since mid-2002. The total population was split between 2,469,407 males and 2,647,693 females.
Birth rate: 11.7 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate: 10.8 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate: 4.1 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2005 est.)
Population growth rate: 0.4% (2005 est.)
at birth: 1.04 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.94 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.88 male(s)/female
total population: 0.93 male(s)/female (2005 est.)
Infant mortality rate: 4.2 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 76.8 years
male: 74.2 years
female: 79.3 years (2005 est.)
Total fertility rate: 1.73 children born/woman (2007 est.)
Marriages: 32,154 (2004 est.)
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99%
female: 99% (2005 est)
Since the census of 2001, the Scottish Government and leading academics in Scotland have expressed concern over the falling number of births in Scotland and the ageing and decline of the population which has occurred over recent decades. Scotland's population reached its peak in the mid-1970s, and has slowly declined since that time to its current total of 5.1m. The major reason is seen to be emigration from Scotland - particularly to the rest of the United Kingdom - although recent years have seen that trend reversed with significant immigration to Scotland from the rest of the United Kingdom . Similarly, since 2004 there has been a large influx of arrivals from the new EU accession states such as Poland, Czech Republic, Lithuania and Latvia, contributing to the recent growth of the population. Since 1997 Scotland has generally experienced a natural decrease in population, with an excess of deaths over births. In 2004, for example, there were 4012 more deaths than births, although for the last five years this process has been reversed with 4342 more births than deaths in 2008.
Compounding the problem of a declining and ageing population, Scotland is experiencing falling fertility and birth rates - a feature common to much of Europe. The ageing population sees the large numbers of people born in the post war period (1950s and 1960s) approach retirement. A common fear amongst commentators is the strain this could impose on the nation's resources, with a smaller working population being insufficient to support a high number of retirees and dependents.
A falling population also brings significant benefits, especially in the longer term, with less competition for limited resources of all kinds.
In 2002, according to GROS, the number of live births in Scotland was the lowest ever recorded, at 51,270. This has however steadily risen, with 53,957 births recorded in 2004 and in 2008 the number of live births was 60,041.
The Scottish Executive has responded to these demographic trends by setting up the Fresh Talent - Working in Scotland Scheme open to foreign (non-EU) graduates from Scotland's universities allowing them a 2 year residency period after graduation.
Within Scotland itself there is significant regional variation in patterns of population growth, with areas such as Aberdeenshire (1.1%), Edinburgh (0.9%), Clackmannanshire (0.8%) Falkirk (1.1%), Perth and Kinross (0.6%) and West Lothian (0.6%) seeing the largest increases in population between 2004 and 2005. Conversely Aberdeen City (-0.5%), West Dunbartonshire (-0.6%) and East Dunbartonshire (-0.6%) have seen the largest falls in population. The Highlands have also seen a significant rise in population over recent years, compared with the last 200 years, in which the area lost large volumes of people, due to persistently high rates of (forced) emigration particularly to places such as Canada, the United States, Australia and New Zealand.
In December 2005, GROS published a series of population projections which showed that Scotland's population was projected to rise between then and the year 2038, with both the numbers of births and deaths expected to drop. Immigration was projected to remain steady, positive and constant.
In January 2008, the GROS figures predicted that Scotland's population would rise to 5.37 million by 2031. Edinburgh's population could rise by 18%, while most other large Scottish cities would suffer a decline.
|Local Council Area||Population (2001)||Population Estimates (2005)||% change 2004 – 2005|
|Argyll and Bute||112,097||90,870||−0.4|
|Dumfries and Galloway||147,765||148,340||+0.3|
|City of Edinburgh||448,624||457,830||+0.9|
|Perth and Kinross||134,949||138,400||+0.6|
95% of Scottish higher education students study in universities in Scotland.