Population dynamics: overview

Information about population dynamics is of fundamental importance for policy-making and planning across a range of policy areas from health to the economy, at both local and national level.

Scotland's population has increased since 2002, largely due to inward migration, but also because of natural change. The birth rate has been fairly steady over the past few years, while the death rate has continued to drop - following a consistent downward trajectory that has continued for over 100 years. As a result, there have been more births than deaths in recent years. Scotland, however, still has one of the highest death rates in Western Europe, and large variations in mortality persist between affluent and deprived areas.

Demographic change is a major issue for Scotland. As in many other relatively wealthy developed countries, Scotland's population is getting steadily older. In the last 100 years the number of people aged 65 or over has risen by over two-thirds of a million. There are now over 900,000 people in this age group and this number is predicted to rise substantially over the next 20 years and beyond.

This part of the website describes various related aspects of population dynamics - population, pregnancy and births, deaths, migration and healthy life expectancy. For each topic there is an overview, examples of local and national trends, key data sources, references and useful web links.

There is also a 2007 report on amenable mortality (mortality that can theoretically be averted by good health care) in the Publications area.