SCOTLAND’S need for migrants to come and live and work here was amply demonstrated yesterday when the latest statistics showed that migration is the main driver of Scotland’s population growth.

A record 5.44 million people now live in Scotland, but the rate of population growth has slowed for the second year running.

The statistics also showed that population change varies across Scotland. Over the 12 months to mid-2018, the population increased in 18 council areas while 14 council areas – mostly rural, island and in the west of Scotland – experienced a population decrease.

Life expectancy in Scotland has increased over the past three decades, but has stalled in recent years. The slowing in improvement to life expectancy can be seen across all UK countries.

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The statistics also show that deprivation strongly affects life expectancy and has an even greater effect on healthy life expectancy.

Scotland’s total fertility rate is the lowest in the UK and falling at a faster rate than all other UK countries.

Paul Lowe, the Registrar General for Scotland, said: “For the 18th consecutive year, Scotland’s population has increased and now stands at a record high of 5.44 million.

“Migration continues to be the main driver of Scotland’s population growth, with more people coming to Scotland than leaving.

“However, we have seen our population growth slowing over the past two years. This is due to the combined effect of a fall in net migration, fewer births and more deaths.

The National:

Tourism, Culture and External Affairs Secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “With all of our population growth predicted to come from migration, the impact and risk of Brexit mean we may not have a large enough working-age population to support public services, industries and our economy.

“The cornerstones of a strong economy are productivity, participation and population. We need to grow our population to ensure we have sustainable, vibrant and resilient communities and drive improvements in inclusive growth.”

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With an ageing population and dementia cases on the increase, Age Scotland, the national charity for older people, said it is vital that Scotland is fit for the future with more investment in health and social care as well as better support for older workers.

Chief executive Brian Sloan said: “Scotland’s ageing population presents many challenges but also opportunities. We already know that Scotland is ageing faster than the rest of the UK and the trend is that we will continue to get older as a country.

“We need to ensure Scotland is fit for the future. This includes ensuring that our precious health and social care services are properly resourced and are planning on how best to support more older people.”