Population Matters

Scotland’s population growth to hit cities and country

Scotland’s population growth to hit cities and country

The number of households in Scotland will grow by 14 per cent over the next 25 years, while the population will grow by seven percent, according to a report released this month by Scotland’s National Records office (NRS).

Growth will be strongest in the cities, with Aberdeen seeing its population grow by a fifth. However, the number of households in the Cairngorms National Park will grow by six per cent.

In Glasgow & Clyde Valley, households should rise by 12 per cent but population growth of just three per cent is expected. Greater growth is expected in Edinburgh and South-East Scotland, where households will increase by 22 per cent and the population by 14 per cent.

Scottish regional population projections 2017The disproportionate growth in households is due to smaller households and 24 percent of Scottish households will contain people living alone by 2039.


Urban areas are threatened with increased pressure on public services and especially housing, in light of the rapid growth in households. The Cairngorms are home to a number of wildlife species which could be threatened by increased development, including red squirrels and cuckoos.

Scottish population policy

Scotland has a lower fertility rate than the rest of the UK. The NRS estimates that in the next 10 years, natural increase (more births than deaths) will be responsible for 10 per cent of the population growth in Scotland, with the remaining 90 per cent due to net inward migration (57 per cent from overseas, 32 per cent from the remainder of the UK).

The Scottish Government seeks a growing population in Scotland. In a submission to a Scottish Government inquiry in 2016, Population Matters wrote

“The assumption that the only way to deal with the demographic change and maintaining a healthy economy in Scotland is by encouraging population growth must be challenged. An increasing population may temporarily increase GDP, but in the long term it means that resources are consumed at an even more unsustainable rate.”

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