Migration, both in and out, has long been an enriching part of our nation’s story - Angus Robertson
For Scotland as a whole, it is a slower rate of growth than between 2001 and 2011, when the figure rose by 233,400 (4.6 per cent); though the Edinburgh council area saw a population rise, up from 476,626 in 2011 to 512,700 last year.
The census confirmed one of our demographic challenges which we share with many other Western developed nations: our population is older than it has ever been.
The last century has seen a near-total reversal of our demographic structure. In the 1920s, the 292,000 people aged 65 and over made up 6 per cent of the population. In 1971, there were still twice as many people under 15 than 65 and over. Today, however, the census tells us that 1,091,000, more than 20 per cent of the 5.4 million people in Scotland, are aged over 65. That’s over a quarter of a million higher than the number of people under 15 (832,300). With this comes more pressure on the NHS and a relatively smaller working population to fund the services we all need.
One of the key counters to the challenges of an ageing population will be encouraging people from elsewhere to come and make their homes in Scotland. And there is good some news there – the growing population of new Scots ultimately mitigated a decline in the Scots-born population. Had it not been for immigration, the population would have declined by nearly 50,000 people.
Migration, both in and out, has long been an enriching part of our nation’s story. Playing vital roles in our public services and adding to the economy, not to mention becoming our neighbours, friends and family, the healthy number of Scots who were born elsewhere but now live in Scotland is a good thing.
However, we need and should welcome more people to Scotland, and we know Brexit and the loss of freedom of movement and the Tories’ mismanagement of the economy have made the UK a less easy place to come to and for many a less attractive place to stay.
The census has been conducted for over 200 years in Scotland, and it remains vital for public administration and policy delivery. The data produced allows us to understand our nation socially, culturally, and economically; to see trends; anticipate issues that could arise in future; make better-informed decisions and, ultimately, do our jobs better in local and national government.
I am grateful to the team at the National Records of Scotland (NRS), Scottish Government officials and the International Steering Group who have validated the quality of the census data. There is more number crunching to be done, and the NRS will publish further results from Scotland’s Census 2022 from spring 2024 onwards. A series of reports will provide new and unique insights into the characteristics of Scotland’s people and give information on ethnicity, religion, the labour market, education and housing. For the first time, it will also include data on armed forces veterans, sexual orientation and trans-status or history.
The full report Scotland’s Census 2022 – Rounded Population Estimates can be found at www.scotlandscensus.gov.uk