THE latest figures for vital events in Scotland show that there were more births than deaths registered last year, continuing the pattern for the prior seven years.
That does not tell the whole story of changes in the make-up of Scotland’s population, however, since these figures do not include information about people entering or leaving the country, or about the changing age profile.
The number of births registered in 2012 (just over 58,000) was the fifth highest since 1997 (2008 to 2011 being higher). However, in recent years numbers of births have been well below the most recent peak of more than 100,000 per year in the early 1960s, and also below the level of around 65,000 to 70,000 per year between the mid-1970s and the early 1990s.
The 58,027 births registered in Scotland last year were slightly fewer (563 – or 1.0 per cent) than in 2011. For the fourth year in a row we’ve seen a reduction, following six annual increases. Previously, the number of births had risen in each year since 2002, and the total of 60,041 for 2008 was the highest figure since 1995. Marriages in Scotland have been on the rise since 2009, and in 2012 reached 30,534 (4.8 per cent up on 2011). However, this is not large in historical terms with more than 40,000 marriages each year from the 1950s to the 1970s.
Despite a rise since 2011 of 1,276, or 2.4 per cent, in the number of deaths registered in Scotland in 2012, to a total of 54,937 deaths, this was the fourth lowest total recorded since the introduction of civil registration in 1855. The lowest was 53,661 in 2011, the only other years with fewer deaths registered than in 2012 were 2009 (53,856) and 2010 (53,967).
• Tim Ellis is chief executive of the National Records of Scotland