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All Our Futures: Planning for a Scotland with an Ageing Population: 3 The Evidence Base

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1.0 SCOTLAND'S AGEING POPULATION

Tomorrow's Scotland

  • Scotland's population is ageing: between 2004 and 2031 the number of people aged 50+ is projected to rise by 28 per cent and the number aged 75 and over is projected to increase by 75 per cent;
  • Fewer children aged 0-15 and people aged 16-64; the numbers are projected to decrease by 15 per cent and 11 per cent respectively by 2031;
  • People living longer: life expectancy at birth is projected to increase from 74.3 years for males and 79.4 years for females for those born around 2004 to 79.2 years and 83.7 years respectively by 2031;
  • People living longer at older ages: a male aged 65 in 2004 can expect to live for another 15.6 years on average, a female of the same age another 18.5 years. This is projected to increase to 19.6 years for males and 22.1 years for females by 2031;
  • More over 50s living alone: In this age group, women are more likely to live alone, but the number of men living alone is increasing faster, as men's life expectancy increases;
  • Geographical variations in the distribution of older people - with the over-75s accounting for more than 15 per cent of the population in Dumfries & Galloway, Eilean Siar, Angus and the Orkney Islands. However, the pattern of ageing varies within Council areas and by other types of areas;
  • An ageing population similar to the rest of Europe, but Scotland faces a larger increase in the number of people aged 65 and over than the rest of the UK.

Scotland's Population - a period of change

Scotland's population is going through a period of change. Over the past three years, after a period of slow decline since the mid-1970s, Scotland's population has increased from 5,054,800 in 2002 to 5,094,800 by the 30th June 2005.

The recent small rise of Scotland's population should be seen in the context of the relative stability of the population over the past 50 years, as illustrated by figure 1. The population reached a peak of 5.24 million in 1974 and since then has been gradually declining, with some fluctuations.

Figure 1: Estimated Population of Scotland, Actual and Projected, 1951-2031

Figure 1: Estimated Population of Scotland, Actual and Projected, 1951-2031

Source: General Register Office for Scotland and Government Actuary's Department

Figure 2: Estimated Population by Age and Sex, 30 June 2005

Figure 2: Estimated Population by Age and Sex, 30 June 2005

Source: General Register Office for Scotland

Figure 2 shows the age structure of the population in 2005.

The two baby booms of 1947 and the 1960s can clearly be seen, with a sharp peak at age 58 and the bigger bulge between the ages of 35 and 45.

18 per cent of the population is aged under 16, 18 per cent is aged 16-29 and 29 per cent is aged 30-49. 35 per cent of the population is aged 50 and over, 16 per cent aged 65 and over and 7 per cent is aged 75 years and over. The higher number of older females (particularly those aged over 75) reflects the longer life expectancy of women, partly as a result of higher rates of male mortality during the Second World War.

Figure 3: The Changing Age Structure of Scotland's Population, 1995-2005

Figure 3: The Changing Age Structure of Scotland's Population, 1995-2005

Source: General Register Office for Scotland

The changing structure of the population since 1995 is illustrated in Figure 3.

Of particular note are the decreases of 10 per cent in the number of people aged 0-15 years and in the number of people aged 16-29 years. The ageing of the population is evident in the increases in the older age groups: a rise of 11 per cent in the number of people aged 50 and over, a rise of 7 per cent in the number aged 65 and over and a rise of 14 per cent in those aged 75 and over.

Looking forward: Tomorrow's Scotland

Figures 4 to 7 show how the post war and 1960s baby-boomers contribute to the ageing of the population with the "pyramid" becoming skinnier and more top heavy by 2031.

Figure 4:

Figure 4

Source: General Register Office for Scotland mid-year estimates and Government Actuary's Department
2004-based projections.

Figure 5:

Figure 5

Figure 6:

Figure 6

Figure 7:

Figure 7

Source: General Register Office for Scotland mid-year estimates and Government Actuary's Department
2004-based projections.

The latest population projections (based on the 2004 mid-year estimates) envisage that the total population of Scotland will rise from 5.08 million in 2004 to 5.13 million in 2019 before declining to 5.07 million by 2031 and falling below 5 million by 2036.

While our population is expected to decline slightly in the long-term, the more significant trend is the continued ageing of Scotland's population. Looking forward, Scotland can expect to see fewer people in the younger age groups and more in older age groups.

Figure 8 shows the likely distribution of the population away from the younger towards the older age groups.

Figure 8: Projected Age Structure of Scotland's Population, 2004-2031

Figure 8: Projected Age Structure of Scotland's Population, 2004-2031

Source: Government Actuary's Department 2004-based projections.

Between 2004 and 2031:-

  • The number of children aged under 16 is projected to decrease by 15 per cent from 0.94 million to 0.79 million;
  • The number of people aged 16-29 is projected to fall by 12 per cent from 0.88 million to 0.77 million;
  • The number of people aged 30-49 is projected to decrease by 17 per cent from 1.50 million to 1.25 million;
  • The number of people aged 50 and over is projected to increase by 28 per cent from 1.76 million to 2.25 million;
  • The number of people aged 65 and over is projected to rise by 58 per cent from 0.83 million to 1.31 million and the number aged 75 and over is projected to rise by 75 per cent from 0.37 million to 0.65 million. These large projected rises are due to two main reasons. The baby boomers born after the Second World War will be entering their early eighties by 2031 and overal mortality rates are expected to continue to improve;
  • The population of males aged 65 and over is projected to increase by just over 70 per cent, whilst for females the corresponding increase is just under 50 per cent;
  • The average age of the population is projected to rise from around 40 to just over 45 by 2031, and the median age for the population as a whole (where half the population are above and below this age) rose from 32.8 years in 1971 to 39.8 years in 2004 and is projected to rise to 45.5 by 2031.

Scotland's Minority Ethnic Population

The size of the minority ethnic population was just over 100,000 in 2001 or 2.0 per cent of the total population of Scotland (based on the 2001 ethnicity classification). This compares to just over 60,000 in 1991 or 1.2 per cent (based on the 1991 ethnicity classification). Whilst the total Scottish population increased by 1.3 per cent during this time, Scotland's minority ethnic population increased by 62.3 per cent.

Of those aged 50 and over, there was a greater proportion of people in the older age groups amongst white people, than among other groups, as shown by figure 9.

Figure 9: Persons Aged 50 and Over, Age Breakdown for Ethnic Groups, 2001 Census

Figure 9: Persons Aged 50 and Over, Age Breakdown for Ethnic Groups, 2001 Census

Source: General Register Office for Scotland, 2001 Census

Population information on Scotland's ethnic groups is collected in Scotland's Census which takes place every 10 years. Data were collected for the first time in 1991 and were subsequently collected in the 2001 Census. Between 1991 and 2001, the classification used to collect information on ethnic group was revised in order to better reflect the diversity of Scotland's ethnic groups. The next Census will take place in 2011 and the Scottish Executive is currently reviewing the 2001 ethnicity classification in order to establish whether it requires further revision in order to more adequately describe the rapidly changing ethnic make-up of Scotland's population.

Why is Scotland's population ageing?

Population ageing is defined as the process by which older individuals make up a proportionally larger share of the total population over a period of time. Population ageing is caused by the interaction of the three main demographic variables - fertility, mortality and migration. Scotland's population is expected to age rapidly over the next few decades. This demographic transition is mirrored across most of the developed world.

Fertility

The number of births registered in Scotland in 2005 was 54,386. This was 429 (0.8 per cent) more than in 2004 and 3,116 (6.1 per cent) more than 2002's total - which was the lowest since civil registration began in 1855. The relatively modest increase in 2005, compared with 2.9 per cent in the previous year, suggests that the recent upturn in births may be easing off. The number of births was just over half that in 1964 (the peak year of the 1960s baby boom with 104,355 births) and around 19 per cent less than in 1991. The number of births and deaths registered in Scotland since 1951 is plotted in figure 10.

Figure 10: Births and Deaths, Scotland, 1951-2005

Figure 10: Births and Deaths, Scotland, 1951-2005

Source: General Register Office for Scotland

Scotland's demographic fertility is low. Within the UK, Scotland not only has lower fertility than England, Wales and Northern Ireland, but its fertility is also lower than in any of the English regions. Within the EU, by contrast, Scotland's total fertility rate lies around mid-range.

A more detailed picture is given by the age specific fertility rates ( ASFRs) by mother's age in five-year age groups in figure 11.

Figure 11: Live Births per 1,000 Women, by Age of Mother, Scotland, 1951-2005

Figure 11: Live Births per 1,000 Women, by Age of Mother, Scotland, 1951-2005

Source: General Register Office for Scotland

Figure 11 shows many significant age-related features of the pattern of childbearing over the last fifty years. The key point is that, as well as choosing to have fewer babies, women are also choosing to have them later in life. Other points of interest are:

  • The 'baby boom' of the 1960s was mostly due to women in their twenties having more babies;
  • Over the last forty years, the fertility of women in their twenties has fallen dramatically. For women aged 20-24 the fertility rate has fallen by around two-thirds; and for those aged 25-29 it has fallen by 53 per cent;
  • Fertility rates for women aged 30 and above have gradually increased over the last thirty years; in particular, the rate for 30-34 year olds overtook that of 25-29 year olds in 2002;
  • The trend towards later childbearing is underlined by an increase in the average age of mothers for all births to 29.5 in 2005, compared with 27.4 in 1991, 26.1 in 1977, and 27.4 in 1964;
  • Average complete family sizes are decreasing. Later age cohorts of women are falling behind in family building. Those born in 1951 had attained an average completed family size of 2.03 by the time they had reached 45, whereas for those born in 1956 the figure was 1.93. By age 30, the cumulative childbearing of the 1971 cohort is about 0.6 lower than that of the 1951 cohort;
  • The average age at first marriage has increased steadily from around 23 years in the 1970's to its current level of 29.6 years;
  • The proportion of marriages where at least one of the partners was aged 20 or under has fallen from 36 per cent in 1981 to 3 per cent in 2004;
  • Research has shown (Boyle and Graham 2002) that the lower fertility rate in Scotland is not because people intended to have fewer children, but rather a greater delay between the first and second births.

Mortality

Falling mortality rates are also an important factor in the ageing population. At 55,747, the number of deaths registered in Scotland in 2005 was 440 (0.8 per cent) fewer than in 2004 and represented the lowest annual total recorded since the introduction of civil registration in 1855.

Figure 9 shows that from 1951 up to the early 1990s the annual number of deaths remained relatively stable at about 60-65,000 a year. Since then the total has declined slowly to its current level.

In 2005, 60 per cent of deaths were of people aged 75 and over, and a further 20 per cent were between the ages of 65 and 74. The realitive stability of the number of deaths over recent years masks significant improvements in age-specific mortality. Figures 12a and 12b show, for both men and women, selected age-specific mortality rates over the last twenty years relative to the 1981 rates. The three age groups shown (45-64, 65-74 and 75 and over) account for around 95 per cent of all deaths.

At these ages, there have been greater improvements in male than in female mortality. For the 45-64 age group, males and females experienced improvements (in mortaility rates) of 45 per cent and 39 per cent respectively. In the 65-74 age group, males showed an improvement of 42 per cent compared with 35 per cent for females. The greatest differential is in the 75 plus age group, where male mortality has improved by 25 per cent comapred with only 10 per cent for females. These changes have narrowed the difference between female and (traditionally higher) male mortality.

Figure 12a: Age Specific Mortality Rates as a Population of 1981 Rate, Males 1981-2005

Figure 12a: Age Specific Mortality Rates as a Population of 1981 Rate, Males 1981-2005

Figure 12b: Age Specific Mortality Rates as a Population of 1981 Rate, Females 1981-2005

Figure 12b: Age Specific Mortality Rates as a Population of 1981 Rate, Females 1981-2005

Source: General Register Office for Scotland

As well as there being more older people, people are expected to live longer. Figure 13 shows that life expectancy at birth in Scotland has improved over the last 20 years or so. It has increased from 69.1 years for males and 75.4 years for females born around 1981 to 74.3 years and 79.4 years respectively for those born around 2004, an increase of 6.3 years and 5.1 years respectively. The gap between males and females is also closing.

For Scotland, improvements in life expectancy at birth are projected to continue, rising to 83.7 years for females and 79.2 for males by 2031 as shown by figure 13. However, men and women in Scotland have almost the lowest expectation of life at birth in the EU (15 states). For males, life expectancy at birth is almost one year lower than the EU (25 states) average and, for females, it is almost two years lower. For both sexes, life expectancy is about four years lower than the countries with the highest expectation of life.

Figure 13: Expectation of Life at Birth, Scotland, 1981-2031

Figure 13: Expectation of Life at Birth, Scotland, 1981-2031

Source: Government Actuary's Department Period Expectation of Life, 2004-based projections

Improvements have also been made in healthy life expectancy which is discussed in Chapter 5: Health, Well-Being and Social Care.

Migration

Historically, Scotland has been a country of net out-migration with more people leaving Scotland to live elsewhere than moving to live in Scotland. However, since the 1960s net out-migration has greatly reduced. Indeed, in some years during the late 1980s and early 1990s, Scotland experienced net migration gains. This has also been the case in the last three years, with net gains of around 9,000 in the year to mid-2003, 26,000 to mid-2004 (the highest level recorded since current records started in 1952) and 19,000 to mid-2005.

Figure 14: National Change and Net Migration, Scotland, 1951-2031

Figure 14: National Change and Net Migration, Scotland, 1951-2031

Source: General Register Office for Scotland

The most significant factor affecting the future population level to around 2021 is migration, because the natural decrease (more deaths than births) is likely to be offset by migrants moving to Scotland, as shown by figure 14. However, after 2021, the most significant factor affecting the level of the population is, currently projected to be, the natural decrease, as the ageing population die in increasing numbers. Despite the projected rise in the number of people over the next 15 years, Scotland's population is still projected to age markedly.

Changing Family & Household Structures

Demographic changes shape not just the size and structure of the population, but also the size and composition of family networks. A rapidly ageing population coupled with changes to the nuclear family structure has important implications for the extended family.

Figure 15: Proportions with Different Types of Kin by Age, Omnibus Survey, UK, 1999

Figure 15: Proportions with Different Types of Kin by Age, Omnibus Survey, UK, 1999

Source: Grundy et al 1999, Population Trends 97

Figure 15, based on the UK Omnibus Survey shows that around 60 per cent of 50 year olds had a parent alive and 35 per cent are grandparents. By 60, more than three quarters had at least one grandchild, and a fifth had a parent alive. Eighty per cent of 20 year olds still have at least one grandparent alive - a proportion which is set to rise. People in their 60's, particularly women, may increasingly be involved in caring and kinship roles for their elderly parents, other older relatives and grandchildren. But by the age of 75, about 89 per cent of people will have a grandchild and 83 per cent an offspring still alive.

Membership of three generation families is now common and many people aged 80 or over are members of families including four living generations. As the population ages, the number of three and four generation families is expected to rise, with increasing numbers of younger people having at least one grandparent.

An ageing population is also reflected in the projections of the number of households. In 2004, there were 2.26 million households in Scotland, projected to rise by 13% to 2.5 million in 2024. The largest increases are expected to be in households headed by people aged 60 and over (an increase of over a third in the 20 years from 2004, from 733,000 to 993,000).

In contrast, households headed by someone aged under 60 are projected to increase by just two per cent, to around 1.55 million. The number of households headed by someone aged 85 or over is projected to more than double over the same period, from 56,000 to 117,000.

In the older age groups, women are more likely to live alone, and the figures increase with age. This is influenced by women's greater life expectancy, and the tendency of women to marry men who are older than them. Fifty six per cent of women aged 85 or over lived alone in 2004, and this is projected to rise to 70 per cent by 2024.

Figure 16: Percentage of People Living Alone, by Age and Gender: 2004

Figure 16: Percentage of People Living Alone, by Age and Gender: 2004

Source: General Register Office for Scotland 2004-based household projections

However, men's life expectancy is increasing faster, which is narrowing the gender gap. Between 2004 and 2024, the number of men aged 55+ who live alone is projected to increase by 60 per cent, whereas the equivalent increase for women is just under 30 per cent. The number of households with 2 adults, where the 'head of household' is aged 55 or over, is also projected to increase by nearly 40 per cent.

Figure 17: Projected Number of Households in Scotland by Household Type: 2004 and 2024

Figure 17: Projected Number of Households in Scotland by Household Type: 2004 and 2024

Source: General Register Office for Scotland 2004-based household projections

Figure 18: Projected Number of Households in Scotland by Household type, where Head of Household is Aged 55 or over: 2004 and 2024

Figure 18: Projected Number of Households in Scotland by Household type, where Head of Household is Aged 55 or over: 2004 and 2024

Source: General Register Office for Scotland 2004-based household projections

Geographical Differences

The increase in the number of older people is unevenly spread across Scotland and the resulting projected age structure of each council area by 2024 (the furthest ahead available projections for smaller areas) varies, as figure 19 shows.

Figure 19: Projected Age Structure of Council Areas in 2004 (2004-based): 0-15, 15-49, 50-59, 60-64, 65-74, 75+

Figure 19: Projected Age Structure of Council Areas in 2004 (2004-based): 0-15, 15-49, 50-59, 60-64, 65-74, 75+

Source: General Register Office for Scotland 2004-based household projections

The proportion of the projected population of Scotland aged 50 and over increases from 35 per cent in 2004 to 44 per cent in 2024. The proportion aged 75 and over increases from 7 per cent in 2004 to 11 per cent in 2024 and these patterns are similar in nearly all areas. Amongst council areas in 2004, Dumfries & Galloway (42 per cent) has the highest proportion of its population aged 50 and over and Glasgow City and West Lothian the lowest at 30 per cent.

The Ageing Population Across Scotland

The map at figure 20 shows the variation in the proportion of the population aged 50 and over in 2005 by Council areas. Dumfries & Galloway, Eilean Siar, Argyll & Bute and South Ayrshire have at least 40.6 per cent of their populations aged 50 and over compared with West Lothian, Edinburgh City, Glasgow City and North Lanarkshire with 32.5 per cent and less of their populations aged 50 and over. However, this hides differences within Council areas as the maps at figures 21, 22 and 23 show. These maps show data zones, statistical small area geography with a median population of around 770 people, and for 2005 the proportion of the population in them aged 50 and over.

Figure 20: Proportion of the Population Aged 50+, 2005, Council Area

Figure 20: Proportion of the Population Aged 50+, 2005, Council Area

Source: General Register Office for Scotland

Figure 21: Proportion of Persons aged 50+, 2005 Dumfries & Galloway Data Zones

Figure 21: Proportion of Persons aged 50+, 2005 Dumfries & Galloway Data Zones

Figure 22: Proportion of Persons aged 50+, 2005 City of Edinburgh Data Zones

Figure 22: Proportion of Persons aged 50+, 2005 City of Edinburgh Data Zones

Source: General Register Office for Scotland

Figure 23: Proportion of Persons aged 50+, 2005 City of Glasgow Data Zones

Figure 23: Proportion of Persons aged 50+, 2005 City of Glasgow Data Zones

Source: General Register Office for Scotland

Looking to the future there are variations by Council area when the proportion of the population aged 50 and over is compared between 2004 and 2024, as shown by figure 24. For example, Edinburgh City is projected to have a 5 percentage point change or less in the proportion of the population aged 50 and over compared with Orkney Islands and Shetland Islands with a projected percent point increase of 15.6 or more.

The projected picture by 2024 shows the Orkney Islands highest at 57 per cent, followed by Eilean Siar (56 per cent) and Dumfries & Galloway (54 per cent) but Edinburgh City and Glasgow City (both at 35 per cent) now both have lower projected proportions of their populations aged 50 and over than West Lothian (39 per cent). The Council area with the highest proportion of its population aged 75 and over by 2024 is Dumfries & Galloway (16 per cent) and the area with the lowest proportion is Glasgow City (at 7 per cent).

Figure 24: Projected Percentage Point Change in the Proportion of Persons Aged 50+ Between 2004-2024 (2004-based), Council Area

Figure 24: Projected Percentage Point Change in the Proportion of Persons Aged 50+ Between 2004-2024 (2004-based), Council Area

Source: General Register Office for Scotland

Population Ageing by Urban Rural and Deprived Areas
As well as looking at Council and data zone areas within Scotland it is perhaps more constructive to look at different types of areas to see patterns in the ageing population. Figure 25 shows that the proportion of Scotland's population aged 50 and over varies by the Scottish Executive's Urban Rural 6 Fold Classification. In 2005, the proportion of the population aged 50 and over in Large Urban areas was 32 per cent compared with 42 per cent in Remote Rural areas.

Figure 25: Proportion of Scotland's Population Aged 0-49 and 50+, by Urban and Rural Areas, 2005

Figure 25: Proportion of Scotland's Population Aged 0-49 and 50+, by Urban and Rural Areas, 2005

Source: General Register Office for Scotland and Scottish Executive

Another way of looking at the ageing population is by the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation ( SIMD). SIMD is the Scottish Executive's official tool for identifying small area concentrations of multiple deprivation across Scotland. The SIMD provides a relative ranking of 6,505 small areas (data zones) across Scotland from the most deprived (ranked one) to the least deprived (ranked 6,505). A 15% cut-off is used in figure 26 to define deprived areas, as this cut-off identifies the highest concentrations of multiple deprivation in Scotland. Figure 26 shows that the proportion of the population aged 50 and over is slightly lower in the 15% most deprived areas compared with the rest of Scotland (35 per cent vs. 31 per cent), however the proportion aged 75 and over is the same (7 per cent).

Figure 26: Age Structure of Scotland's Population in the 15% Most Deprived Data Zones Compared with the Rest of Scotland

Figure 26: Age Structure of Scotland's Population in the 15% Most Deprived Data Zones Compared with the Rest of Scotland

Source: General Register Office for Scotland and Scottish Executive

International Comparisons

The ageing of the population is not unique to Scotland. Past and projected information is shown in figure 27 for selected countries for selected years.

Figure 27: Proportion of Actual and Projected Total Population by selected countries Aged 65+

Figure 27: Proportion of Actual and Projected Total Population by selected countries Aged 65+

Source: Government Actuary's Department and Eurostat. Note: Eurostat also produce a projection for the UK not shown here.

Scotland's 65+ population rises faster than the rest of the UK, to a higher proportion of the total.

References for Chapter One

GROS (2006) Life Expectancy for Administrative Areas within Scotland, 2003-2005.
GROS (2006) 2004 Mid-Year Population Estimates.
GAD (2005) 2004-based projections for Scotland.
GROS (2005) 2004-based Sub-National Projections for Council and NHS Board areas in Scotland.
GROS (2005) 2004-based Household Projections.
Grundy E, Murphy M, Shelton N (Autumn 1999), "Looking beyond the household: intergenerational perspectives on living kin and contacts with kin in Great Britain". Population Trends 97, P19-27
GROS (2005) Scotland's Population 2005, The Registrar General's Annual Review.
Scottish Executive (2006) Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation 2006.
GROS (2006) 2005 Data Zone Population Estimates.
(Scottish Executive 2006) Scottish Executive Urban and Rural Classification.
ISD(2004) Healthy Life Expectancy in Scotland.

We are grateful to General Registry Office for Scotland for their input and analysis required for this chapter.