Scotland’s population is the highest it has ever been at a little over 5.4 million people. This figure is for the middle of 2017 and was published in April 2018 by the organisation tasked with providing authoritative statistics on population, the National Records of Scotland.
They also provide this graphic which is packed with much more detail.
One striking fact is that women outnumber men in Scotland. In fact, this is true in most developed (meaning wealthier) countries. In less developed countries males slightly outnumber females and this is also true of the world’s overall population as most of the global population live in less wealthy countries.
This kind of chart is sometimes referred to as a “population pyramid” because it’s wider at the bottom than the top. Well, it used to be wider when national statistics of this kind were first published, but it is suffering from a form of middle-aged spread.
The various bulges correspond to times when the birth rate was high. There was a brief burst of baby-making immediately after the Second World War, and those babies are now around 70 years old. There was a more sustained spell of procreative hanky-panky from the late 1950s and through the 1960s resulting in a bulge of people who are now between about 45 and 60 years old. And these “baby boomers”, as they are called, went on to have babies themselves and so we see a third, smaller bulge of people in their twenties. The fourth, and smallest bulge is of children and is likely associated with the wave of immigration that followed the entry of a number of countries into the EU from 2004 to 2006.
This one graphic touches on a number of challenges facing our society, most obviously on schooling, immigration and growing health and social care needs of a growing cohort of people moving into old age. We’ll come back to all of these in future blog posts.
The next post takes a closer look at how the population has grown and shrank over the last 160 years.