Scotland’s census has finally been published – showing a record number of people living in the country.  

According to the latest figures, there were 5,436,600 people living in Scotland as of last year– the highest figure on record . 

New data released by National Records of Scotland (NRS) showed the population has grown by 2.7% since the last census in 2011.  

Where are the people coming from?  

The statistics contain an interesting figure – the number of deaths has surpassed the number of births.  

While this isn’t new, it should result in a falling population.  

But Scotland’s is rising, and the answer appears to be from people moving to the country.  

READ MORE: SNP minister Angus Robertson admits delayed census led to lower response rate

Since the last census, almost 250,00 more people have moved to Scotland than have left, allowing population growth to outstrip the death rate. 

Without migration the population of Scotland would have decreased by around 49,800 since 2011, records showed. 

Does this census buck a trend? 

Yes, but now in terms of the growing population – that has been growing for decades.  

Where it differs is the rate of growth. The past ten years since the last census have seen slower growth than the preceding te years. 

Latest statistics showed the population grew by 141,200 (2.7%) since 2011, a slower rate of growth than between 2001 and 2011, when the figure rose by 233,400 (4.6%). 

The Herald:

What about the aging population?  

The fact that Scotland’s population is getting older is stark:  More than one million over-65s live in Scotland, while only 832,300 people are under the age of 15. 

Compared to 1971, there were double the number of under-15s, compared to over-65s. 

This is likely to cause complications down the line, as a shrinking younger population works to support an older and growing one.  

But how accurate is the census? 

There has been a census in Scotland every 10 years since 1801. Usually, it’s totally reliable, but this year there is a caveat.  

A poor uptake among respondents – the census had to be moved from 2021 to 2022 because f the pandemic – resulted in a completion rate of 89%, lower than the target of 94%, with the total costs reaching £144.6m. 

READ MORE: Scotland's population grows to record high according to census

This loss of data means there may be variables which have not been totally explored. For one thing, older people were more likely to fill in the census, meaning the data here may be skewed.  

What have the experts said?

They seemed pleased with the results. Scottish Government Chief Statistician Alasdair McAlpine convened a small group of experienced senior analysts to review the outputs. 

He wrote to National records for Scotland Chief Executive to confirm: “The outputs will provide the robust population statistics to support the wider statistical system and that analysts and the general public can have confidence in the outputs.”