Scotland faces huge rise in ‘pension population’

Scotland is facing a demographic timebomb in the coming decades with a massive rise in the pension population - while the number of workers flatlines.
Scotland will see a massive rise in the pension population. Picture: John DevlinScotland will see a massive rise in the pension population. Picture: John Devlin
Scotland will see a massive rise in the pension population. Picture: John Devlin

The number of over 75s will double by 2039 to about 800,000 with the working age population poised to remain static.

The figures were unveiled by the National Record of Scotland today and show the population of Scotland is projected to rise from 5.35 million to 5.7 million by 2039.

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Immigration will be the main driver of Scotland’s population growth, accounting for about 90 per cent of the increase. This compares with just 10 per cent coming from increased birth rates.

The growth in the older population has prompted concerns about the looming strain on public services and the cost of funding pensions.

Robert Wright, professor economic at Strathclyde University said: “The people who are working age is going to decline, so if there’s no change in participation rates the number of workers - people paying taxes into the system - is going to decline.

“At the same time people are getting older. At the end of the day, someone is going to have to pay those pensions.

“There are fewer and fewer people working, yet more and more people with their hand out for pensions.

“This is the problem of a pay as you go pension system - so there’s demographic imbalance and this is the real issue. We’ve been talking about this for years.

“The future if you’re an older person is not so rosy.”

The number of people of pensionable age and over is projected to increase over the next 25 years by 300,000 to reach 1.36 million.

Over the same period, the working age population will only increase by one per cent - about 40,000 - to 3.42 million.

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It means the dependency ratio – people aged under 16 and of pensionable age and over, to those of working age – is projected to rise from around 58 dependants per 100 working population in 2014 to 67 per 100 in 2039.

Registrar General and NRS Chief Executive Tim Ellis said: “The latest population projections indicate that while Scotland’s population is expected to reach record levels for years to come, it is not projected to be quite as high as the previous set of projections suggested.”

“Scotland’s population is projected to continue to rise into the future because although Scotland’s birth rate and inward net migration levels have recently fallen, they are still high by historic standards. Also people at older ages are expected to live longer.”