Census shows 'highest' Scottish population ever

waverley station in Edinburgh
Image caption The Scottish population rose at its highest rate in a century

The first set of results from the 2011 Census in Scotland have shown that the population of the country was at its highest level ever.

The population on Census Day was 5,295,000 - up 5% (233,000) since 2001 and the highest rise between two censuses in the past century.

The number of people aged over 65 grew by 11% but the number of children between five and 14 fell by 11%.

Combined with other census figures, the total UK population was 63,181,775.

The census was carried out on 27 March 2011. More details of the Scottish results will be released next year.

The first release of the data showed population estimates by sex and five-year age bands, as well as the total population estimates for each council area in Scotland.

The figures showed that the Scottish population was made up of 2,728,000 women and 2,567,000 men.

For the first time ever, the number of people aged 65 and over was higher than the number aged under 15. The number of over-65s has increased by 85,000 (11%) since 2001, and now represents some 17% of the total population.

There were 230,000 people aged 80 and over in 2011, an increase of 19% on the figure of 193,000 in 2001.

In contrast, there has been a decrease of 69,000 (11%) in the number of children aged between five and 14 over the past decade.

However, in 2011 there were 293,000 children aged under five, an increase of 6% from 2001.

Over the past century, the age profile of the population has become much older, with the proportion aged under 15 falling from 32% in 1911 to 16% last year, while the proportion aged 65 and over has increased from 5% to 17%.

The Scottish population had been falling steadily from a peak of 5,227,000 in the mid-1970s to 5,055,000 in 2002, but has been rising since.

The total Scottish population was just over half a million higher in 2011 than it was 100 years earlier.

'Attractive nation'

There are also huge differences in population density across the country, with the population per square kilometre ranging from nine in Eilean Siar (the Western Isles) and the Highlands to 3,395 in Glasgow.

Commenting on the results, Acting Registrar General Audrey Robertson said: "These first results from the Census confirm the upward trend in the size of Scotland's population in recent years.

"At 5,295,000, the population is now the highest ever recorded. This increase is partly because there have been more births than deaths, but mainly because more people have moved to Scotland than have left."

Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop said the figures represented a "historic moment for our country".

She said: "A decade and more of devolution has delivered a growing and record high population. That is not simply a sign of the dynamic, attractive nation we are building. It is also a key factor in delivering economic growth in future years."

She said the figures showed that the Scottish government was on track to meet its population growth target.

"Scotland has a large, established migrant community and we welcome the contribution new Scots are making to our economy and society," she added.

"Scotland still faces challenges. In common with almost every mature economy, we have an ageing population, but these figures also show that the under-fives population is up by 6% compared with 2001."

More on this story