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Last Updated: Thursday, 18 December, 2003, 13:00 GMT
Population to fall below five million
Buchanan Street Glasgow
Scotland's population is in slow decline
Scotland's population is expected to fall below five million by 2009, according to new figures.

The Registrar General for Scotland, Duncan Macniven, said that the biggest impact was the falling number of births.

He said the country's population of 5.05 million in 2002 could fall to 4.84 million by 2009.

The figures also predict that there will be a 60% increase in the number of Scots who are at least 75-years-old.

Mr Macniven said: "These population projections are the first to take full account of the results from the 2001 Census.

"Like the last projection, they forecast a slow fall in Scotland's population over the next quarter century."

He said that the net emigration of about 1,500 people per year played a minor role in the decline.

The main projections to come out of the figures are:

  • The total population of Scotland is set to fall from 5.05 million in 2002 to 4.84 million in 2009

  • The number of children aged under 16 could fall to 80% of its 2002 level by the year 2027 from 955,000 to 765,000

  • The number of people of working age could fall by 8% from 3.15 million in 2002 to 2.88 million in 2027

  • The number of people of pensionable age is projected to rise by 25% to nearly 1.2 million

  • The number of elderly people of 75 and over is due to rise by 61% to 585,234

  • The sex structure of the elderly population over 75-years-old is set to change from 35% male in 2002 to 42% male in 2027.

The population of the UK as a whole is expected to rise from 59.2 million in 2002 to 64.8 million in 2031.

Six months ago First Minister Jack McConnell launched a drive to attract more people to live and work in Scotland.

A spokeswoman for the Scottish Executive said: "It's an economic issue, a social issue and a cultural issue.

Past trends

"The first minister has always taken it seriously, long before these projections came out.

"He has made it one of the primary objectives of the government's next four years, to work out the best ways to get people to come and live here."

The last full set of population projections for the UK was published in November 2001.

They were based on assumptions about future fertility, mortality and migration, taking account of past trends.

The population of the UK on census day 2001 was 58,789,194.

The populations of individual countries were: England 49,138,831 (83.6% of the total population), Scotland 5,062,011 (8.6%), Wales 2,903,085 (4.9%) and Northern Ireland 1,685,267 (2.9%).

The BBC's Morag Kinniburgh
"We'll have a smaller workforce and a larger number of oaps"

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25 Feb 03  |  Scotland
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30 Oct 02  |  Scotland
Scotland's population falling
30 Sep 02  |  Scotland
Analysis: Scotland's census figures
30 Sep 02  |  Scotland

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