Number of pensioners in Scotland to increase by 25% over next 25 years

Aberdeen City Health & Social Care PartnershipThe population of Scotland is projected to continue increasing and ageing, according to new figures published today by National Records of Scotland.

The population of Scotland is projected to rise from 5.40 million in 2016 to 5.58 million in 2026, and to continue to rise to 5.69 million in 2041 – an increase of 5% over the 25 year period.

All of the projected increase in Scotland’s population over the next 10 years is due to net in-migration to Scotland; 58% of net in-migration is projected to come from overseas, with 42% from the rest of the UK.

Natural change (the number of births minus the number of deaths) is projected to be negative in each year of the projection. By 2041 it is projected that there will be over 10 thousand more deaths than births each year.

The population is also projected to age, with people aged 75 and over projected to be the fastest growing age group in Scotland. The number of people aged 75 and over is projected to increase by 27% over the next ten years and increase by 79% over the next 25 years to 2041.

Between 2016 and 2041, the population of pensionable age is projected to rise from 1.05 million to 1.32 million, an increase of 25%, while the number of children is projected to decrease from 0.92 million to 0.90 million (reduction of 2%) over the same period. This compares to an increase in the working age population from 3.43 million in 2016 to a peak of 3.59 million in 2028 (an increase of 5%). It is then projected to decline to 3.47 million by 2041. Overall there is a 1% projected increase in people of working age over the 25 year period.

The National Population Projections for Scotland are based on the latest population estimates for 2016 and provide an indication of the future size and age structure of Scotland’s population based on a set of assumptions about future fertility, mortality and migration.

Tim Ellis, the Registrar General of Scotland, said: “The latest population projections show Scotland’s population is projected to continue to increase and to age over the next 25 years.

“The rise in population is driven by projected migration into Scotland both from rest of the UK and from overseas, while the number of deaths is projected to exceed the number of births every year.

“Over the period we also expect to see the number of people of pensionable age increase by 25%, while the number of people of working age will increase by 1% and the number of children will decrease by 2%.”

The UK’s population is projected to rise by 11.1% over the same time period.

The Scottish Government said that without migration from the EU, Scotland’s population would only rise by 2% by 2041.

External affairs secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “These figures illustrate the critical importance of maintaining inward migration to Scotland - including maintaining the existing freedom of movement with European neighbours - to help increase Scotland’s population and grow the economy.

“As our population ages, the continued availability of labour from across Europe is essential to meet our economic and social needs and to address potential skills shortages in all sectors of the labour market.”

She added: “The stark reality outlined in today’s figures is that projected growth in Scotland’s population will slow significantly if levels of EU migration are reduced.

“And in that scenario the population is also predicted to start declining again within the next 25 years.

“That would have a significant negative impact on Scotland’s economy and our ability to fund the public services we will need for an ageing population.”

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