SCOTLAND'S population is to drop with stagnating net migration following Brexit, a new study has precited.

The report from the National Records of Scotland (NRS) predicts that Scotland’s population is set to decline by 2045, being the only UK nation to do so.

The report emphasised that this is due, in large part, to the declining birth rate and higher mortality rate that has been reported - a gap that is usually plugged by migration.

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The natural change in population (measured as births minus deaths) is predicted to hit -27,974 in 2045, while net migration into the country following Brexit is expected to stagnate at around 19,000.

However, the predicted slump is expected to follow a peak in Scotland’s population in 2028 at 5.48 million people.

The report also found that almost half of Scotland’s local authorities will have smaller populations over the next decade – most of which being in west and southwest Scotland.

These areas tend to have a higher percentage of more deprived areas or a higher percentage of rural areas.

In contrast, most areas in the central belt and cities are expected to grow in population.

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Commenting, Scottish Green MSP Maggie Chapman has said that Scotland needs greater control over migration policies to tackle its declining population. 

She said: "Migrant communities have enhanced our country and our neighbourhoods. Yet, they have been met from Westminster by a reactionary and xenophobic Brexit campaign and in many cases a hostile environment.

"These figures are very concerning. The Tories have tried to cut us off from the world when what we should be doing is opening up. It's not just a matter of economics, it is about building an outward looking and progressive country, with social justice at its heart.

"I don't want us to be a country that sets up lots of cruel and needless hurdles and barriers like the Home Office has done, or that trades in the scapegoating and demonisation of people who choose to make their lives here."

"The Scotland I want to build is one that can re-join the EU as an independent member state. With the powers of independence we can extend a hand of friendship by welcoming people and providing opportunities."

"Part of that needs to be ensuring that those who seek refuge here are given the opportunities to fully contribute to our communities, society and economy."

SNP MSP Michelle Thomson said the report highlights the "deeply damaging consequences" of Scotland being under Westminster control.

She added: "Despite voting overwhelmingly to remain in the EU and maintain freedom of movement, we have been dragged away from both and Westminster does not care about the harm it is causing across Scotland.

"This is not the future Scotland wants or deserves, and underlines how vital it is for people to have a choice of a better future as an independent country."

A Home Office spokesperson said: “The government has delivered on its promise to the British people to take back control of our immigration system and bring the brightest and best-skilled workers to grow our economy.  

“Immigration will remain a reserved matter. Our points-based immigration system works in the interests of the whole of the United Kingdom, including Scotland.”

What else did the report find?

Another figure in the report found the link between drug deaths and inequality has gotten steadily worse.

Drug misuse deaths in Scotland’s most deprived areas are now 15 times more likely to occur than in the least deprived areas, a rise from the early 2000s when it was around 10 times more likely.

However, drug deaths in the last year have dropped overall.

Meanwhile, the link between income inequality and alcohol-specific deaths has weakened over time.

Alcohol deaths in the most deprived areas are now 5.6 times more likely to occur in the most deprived areas compared to the least deprived – down from the high of 8.7 in 2002.

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NRS statistician Julie Ramsay said: “Some people in Scotland experience considerably worse health than others. We also see a lot of health inequality between Scotland and the rest of the UK.

"Mortality rates are about two times as high in the most deprived areas compared to the least deprived areas. But for some specific causes of death, we see much larger inequalities. For example, people in the most deprived areas of Scotland are more than 15 times as likely to die from drug misuse than those in the least deprived areas …

"In recent years, life expectancy improvements have stalled and started to reverse. Although this isn’t unique to Scotland.”