Migration to Scotland fuels population rise

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Image caption Migration is one of the main reasons Scotland's population is continuing to rise

Scotland's population has risen to the highest level since 1977 with a boost from migration from the rest of the UK.

Figures from the Registrar General show the number of people living in Scotland went up by 28,100 last year, one of the largest rises in recent years.

The overall population of Scotland stood at 5.22 million in June 2010.

The report also shows the death rate to be the second lowest ever, with a significant drop in those dying from heart disease or stroke.

The increase in population is said to be due mainly to continued migration, half from within the UK, and the number of births overtaking the number of deaths in the 12 months from July 2009.

A total of 24,968 more people came to Scotland than left between July 2009 and June 2010, and there were 5,188 more births than deaths.

'Returning home'

Commenting on the figures, the Registrar General Duncan Macniven, who is now retiring, said: "When I was appointed in 2003, Scotland's population was estimated to be 5,054,800 and had been slowly reducing since 1974 when it reached 5,240,800, the highest-ever recorded figure.

"Trends suggested the decline would continue and the population would fall to below 5,000,000 by 2010.

"But over the past eight years, the number of people coming to Scotland has been higher than the number leaving, by an average of 22,800 per year. This has boosted the population by more than 3% to 5,222,100 by mid-2010."

He added: "Around half of those moving to Scotland came from within the UK. Of the other 50%, who came from Europe and further afield, approximately one quarter were British citizens returning home."

The figures, published in the General Register Office for Scotland's annual round-up of demographic trends, show 58,791 births were registered in 2010, a drop of 255 compared with 2009.

The average age of mothers was 29, compared with 27 in 1991.

The number of deaths increased by 111 in 2010 to 53,967. However, death rates are at the second-lowest levels since 1855.

Mr Macniven said: "The number of deaths has reduced by 4,500 in the last 10 years while the number of births rose by 6,400.

"Significant reductions in the number of deaths from heart disease, down by almost one third, and strokes, down by more than one quarter, are well documented. More surprising has been the increase in the number of births - up by 12% in the past eight years.

"While some of the increase can be attributed to children born of mothers from the former East European states joining the EU in 2004, the vast majority were babies born to Scottish mothers."

Life expectancy

Cancer was Scotland's biggest killer in the 12 months to June 2010, causing 28% of deaths.

The percentage of deaths caused by coronary heart disease has fallen from 29% in 1980-1982 to 15% in 2010.

There has also been a steady improvement in life expectancy since 2003 - by a year for girls and more than a year for boys.

The council areas which saw the highest increases in population were West Lothian, up by 10%, and Perth and Kinross up by 9%. The biggest drop in population was in Inverclyde, which saw a 6% fall.

Humanist weddings have overtaken Roman Catholic weddings in Scotland for the first time since they became legally recognised in 2005.

There were 28,480 marriages in Scotland in 2010 and 465 civil partnerships.

Just over half of all marriages were civil ceremonies, carried out by a registrar - compared with just under one third in 1971.

Clergy from the Roman Catholic Church carried out 1,776 marriages, compared with humanist celebrants who officiated at 2,092 marriages.

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