Migration sees Scotland’s population reach record high

Shoppers in Princes Street, Edinburgh. The capital saw the highest population growth in Scotland in 2016. Picture: Ian Georgeson/JP Resell
Shoppers in Princes Street, Edinburgh. The capital saw the highest population growth in Scotland in 2016. Picture: Ian Georgeson/JP Resell
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Migration to Scotland has seen the population rise to its highest ever level reaching 5,404,700 at the end of June last year.

Statistics released by the National Records of Scotland show a rise of 31,700 (0.6 per cent) over the year since June 30 2015.

The increase has been driven by migration with those moving to Scotland exceeding those leaving by 31,700. This included a net increase of 22,900 people from overseas and 8,800 from the rest of the UK.

The number of deaths exceeded the number of births by 800, but this was offset by other changes (such as changes to the prison population and changes to the number of armed forces personnel stationed in Scotland) which saw a rise of 800 people.

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The figures are in keeping with recent trends. These latest figures showing a 31,700 rise (0.6 per cent) follow an increase of 25,400 (0.5 per cent) in the previous year to 30 June 2015.
The main reason for the higher population increase is that net migration to Scotland increased from 28,000 in 2014-15 to 31,700 in 2015-16.

Natural change (births minus deaths) resulted in a loss of 800 people in the year to 30 June 2016, compared with a loss of 2,000 in the previous year. The year-on-year change was driven by 1,800 fewer deaths, partially offset by 600 fewer births.

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The population statistics were accompanied by analysis of European Economic Area (EEA) born residents living in Scotland by local authority area. The data, based on the latest 2011 Census figures, shows that people born in the EEA live in every local authority, from 7.2 per cent of the population of Aberdeen City to 0.9 per cent in East Ayrshire.
According to these figures, 67 per cent of EEA-born residents in Scotland aged 16 and over were in employment compared to 58 per cent of the total population of Scotland aged 16 and over. Also, more EEA-born residents in Scotland between 16 -74 years are educated to degree level (46 per cent) compared to 27 per cent for all people aged 16-74 in Scotland.

Edinburgh saw the highest population growth by local authority area, while Glasgow was second.

The population in Scotland’s largest city increased by 1.6 per cent in 2016 to reach 615,000 - up 578,000 in 2001.

Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs Fiona Hyslop, said:  “These figures underline the key role migration has to play in our work to grow Scotland’s population.  It is very welcome that people are living longer but we need to ensure we can grow our working age population to support our economy and society now and in the future when we expect more people to live longer beyond retirement.
“Scotland already benefits significantly from the contribution made by people from across Europe who have chosen to live, work and study here, bringing new skills and expertise and helping to underpin future economic growth.”

She said: “The Scottish Government is committed to continuing to encourage inward migration to support further population growth.”