Population: key points

National Records of Scotland (NRS) are responsible for producing official population figures for Scotland.  Scotland’s Census provides an official count of the population once every 10 years. These census figures are then used by NRS to calculate population estimates each year as well as future population projections. The latest NRS mid-year population estimates publication is located here.

  • Scotland's estimated population on the 30th June 2016 was 5,404,700, the highest ever - an increase of 31,700 (0.6%) on the previous year.
  • Scotland’s population is increasing. Since 1996 years Scotland’s population has grown by 6%. The most recent population projections estimate that the population of Scotland will reach around 5.7 million by the year 2039.
  • Scotland’s population is ageing. Over the last 20 years the proportion of the population aged 75 years and over has increased by 31% whereas the proportion aged 0-15 years has decreased by 10%. By 2039, the group of those aged 75 years and over is expected to increase by 85%.
  • The degree of population change varies across different regions. City of Edinburgh council population increased by 1.68% whereas Na h-Eileanan Siar decreased by 0.63%.
  • People in Scotland are increasingly living alone or in smaller households. In 2015, nearly 900,000 people were living alone; one person household are now the most common type of household in Scotland.

Section updates:

  • The last update of this section was completed in September 2017.
  • The next update is due to by end September 2018.