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Summary: Age Demographics

EqualitySummary: Age Demographics

Population estimates
  • On 30 June 2017, Scotland's population was estimated to be 5,424,800 – a record high and an increase of 20,100 people (0.4%) over the last year. Since 1997, Scotland's population has increased by 6%.

Scotland's population structure, Mid-2017

  • In 2017, just under one in five people (19%) in Scotland were aged 65 and over, compared with 16% in mid-2007.

  • People aged under 16 made up 17% of the population in 2017 and 64% of people were aged 16 to 64.

Scotland's population by age

  • Between 1997 and 2017, the increase in the population of older age groups was much higher than younger age groups. The largest increase was in the 75 and over age group (+31%) whereas the population of children aged 0 to 15 decreased the most (-9%).

Source: Mid-2017 Population Estimates Scotland (Last updated: April 2018, NRS)

Population projections

Scotland's population is projected to age

  • Based on 2016 population projections, 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.

  • The population is projected to age as the large number of people who were around aged 50 in 2016 are aged 75 by 2041. This is the effect of baby boomers of the 1960s ageing over the next 25 years.

  • People aged 75 and over are 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 by 79% over the next 25 years.

Scotland's pensionable age population is projected to increase

Source: NRS 2016-based population projections


Marriages and civil partnerships
  • In Scotland, the average age at first marriage has increased for both males and females by almost 10 years since 1975. The average age at first marriage increased from 24.3 to 33.9 for males and from 22.4 to 32.2 for females.

Source: Scotland's Population 2016 - The Registrar General's Annual Review of Demographic Trends

Older people are more likely to live alone

  • Older people tend to live in smaller households. By 2039, there are projected to be 484,800 people aged 65 and over living alone, an increase of 45% from 333,400 in 2014.

  • Increases are particularly large in the oldest age groups (85 and over) where the number of people living alone is projected to be more than twice as high by 2039 (an increase of 139%).

Source: NRS 2014-based household projections


  • Between mid-2015 and mid-2016, migrants to Scotland tended to be younger than the general population.

  • Of migrants to Scotland in the year to mid-2016, 52% were aged 18 to 32 years. Migrants from the rest of the UK peaked at the age of 19 while migrants to the rest of UK peaked at the age of 23. This is largely due to students starting higher education in Scotland, followed by them leaving after they graduate.

  • The peak age for movers from overseas to Scotland is 23.

Source: Scotland's Population 2016 - The Registrar General's Annual Review of Demographic Trends (Last updated: August 2017, NRS)

  • The average age of mothers has increased from 26.0 in 1975 to 30.3 in 2016. Similarly, the average age of fathers has increased from 28.4 in 1975 to 32.9 in 2016.

Source: Scotland's Population 2016 - The Registrar General's Annual Review of Demographic Trends (Last updated: August 2017, NRS)

  • In Scotland in 2016, there were an estimated 910 centenarians (people aged 100 and over). This is a 57% increase from 2006 when there were an estimated 580 centenarians.

  • The majority of centenarians are women. In 2016, women accounted for 790 of Scotland’s centenarians (87%) while around 120 men had reached this milestone.

Source: Centenarians in Scotland 2006 to 2016


Useful Links

Age page


Publications and Outputs

Publications and Outputs

NRS Scotland Statistics (NRS) A range of National statistics/Official publications are available on the National Records of Scotland website.

2011 Census Releases (NRS) A summary of the 2011 census releases, with links to statistical bulletins. Age and gender is covered in releases 1A and 1B. Disability, ethnicity and religion is covered in releases 2A. Further detailed breakdowns are provided in release 3

Scottish Government Equality Outcomes: Age Evidence Review (2013) A comprehensive review of available evidence in relation to age equality.

Scotland's Population 2016: Infographic Report (NRS, August 2017) Scotland's Population 2016 - The Registrar General's Annual Review of Demographic Trends 162nd Edition

Analysis of Equality Results from the 2011 Census: Part 2 (March 2015) Brings together relevant statistics from the census and other sources to paint a highly detailed picture of equality in Scotland. The policy areas covered are Labour Market, Education, Housing and Transport. The BSL section contains data by age.

Analysis of Equality Results from the 2011 Census: Part 1 (October 2014) Analysis of Equality Results from the 2011 Census, including Ethnicity, Gypsy/Travellers, Religion, Disability and BSL and contains data by age.

Overview of Equality Results from 2011 Census Release 2 (March 2014) This paper provides further analysis of equality data originally released from the Census by the National Records of Scotland (NRS). It pulls this together into a user friendly format providing new analysis and insight, particularly around deprivation. The main equality strands included in the paper are ethnicity, religion and disability.

Mid-2017 Population Estimates Scotland (NRS, April 2018) Population estimates by administrative area, Scotland, mid-2017

Mid-2016 Population Estimates for Settlements and Localities in Scotland (NRS, March 2018) Small area population estimates for settlements and localities in Scotland, by age and gender. Further population estimates are available in the annual mid-year small area population estimates for each data zone in Scotland

Mid-2016 Small Area Population Estimates for 2011 Data Zones (NRS, August 2017) Small area population estimates at data zone level, by age and gender

Local Area Migration 2016 (NRS, August 2017) This tool gives access to migration data from a range of sources for council and NHS Board areas. Information is also available on the strengths and weaknesses of each data source, what each data source indicates, and links are provided for further information. Covers age, gender and ethnicity

Characteristics of migrants in Scotland: Analysis of the 2011 Census (October 2016) Compares characteristics (including Age) of migrants from European Economic Area (EEA) and non-EEA countries with the Scotland-born population and migrants from the rest of the UK.



Scotland's Census

National Records of Scotland - More up to date information is available, as well as data tables including time series information, from the National Records of Scotland website.

Scotland's Census Data Explorer - Download data, charts and tables from the 2011, 2001 and 1991 Censuses.

Official Statistics

statistics.gov.scot - Explore, visualise and download over 200 datasets from a range of producers. Start browsing by theme, organisation, or geography. Or access programmatically using our APIs. A range of datasets are available that can be broken down by age group


Future Developments

Future Developments

The main set of statistical outputs from Scotland’s Census 2011 have now been published and we are working through the requests received for commissioned outputs. For further information on submitting a request, visit the Commissioned Outputs page.

Planning has begun for Scotland’s Census 2021 and will build on the success of the census in 2011.

Select below for further information on:




National Records of Scotland Customer Services: statisticscustomerservices@nrscotland.gov.uk