POPULATION growth in Scotland is projected to stall over the current decade, with an increase in migration largely failing to compensate for a low birth rate.

Statistics released by National Records of Scotland (NRC) predict a 1.8% increase in the population over the 10 years from 2018 to 2028, with an extra 99,000 people boosting the population to 5.54 million.

But population growth is projected to be slower than over the previous decade, when there was a 4.5% increase. The NRC report also predicts the number of elderly Scots will increase amid a boost in life expectancy.

The figures are based on past trends and assumptions of future fertility, mortality and migration levels.

Scotland’s population growth is projected to be mainly in the central belt and urban areas, with areas in the east around Edinburgh – Midlothian, East Lothian and the capital city itself – growing at the fastest rate.

Population decline is projected mainly to be in the west and south-west of the country, including the Western Isles, Inverclyde and Argyll and Bute. Overall, 18 of Scotland’s 32 council areas are forecast to have a growth in numbers. More councils are now predicted to experience a decline than in previous projections.

Migration between councils, from the rest of the UK and international migration will drive the population increase in most areas, the report found. By mid-2028, a total of 30 council areas are projected to have more people arriving than leaving.

Some 51% of net migration is projected to come from overseas and 49% from the rest of the UK. Most areas are projected to have more deaths than births, with only five councils bucking the trend.

All councils can expect an increase in people aged 75 and over, and only three local authority areas will have an increase in the number of children – Midlothian, East Dunbartonshire and East Renfrewshire. Life expectancy for both men and women will increase across the country.

A baby girl born in 2027-28 in the Western Isles is likely to live to 85.8 years, 6.6 years longer than a baby girl born at the same time in Glasgow City, the council with the lowest projected life expectancy.

Alan Ferrier, head of demography statistics at the NRS, said: “While Scotland’s overall population is projected to increase over the next decade, there is variation across Scotland, with some councils projected to decline in population. In many areas of Scotland, the number of births are projected to continue to be lower than deaths, highlighting that migration remains the key driver of population increase.”

The National:

Economy Secretary Fiona Hyslop (above) said the statistics “highlight the challenge we face in communities across Scotland”. She said: “I chair the ministerial population task force, which is committed to working across the Scottish Government to develop and deliver policy solutions with the aim of growing our population to ensure we have sustainable, vibrant and resilient communities and drive improvements in inclusive growth.

“While there can be many drivers for growth, as things stand all of Scotland’s population growth over the next 25 years – including our working-age population – is projected to come from migration.

“We therefore need to maintain inward migration to help grow the economy through a tailored migration policy for Scotland as well as supporting people, including EU citizens, to stay in Scotland through the Stay in Scotland campaign.”