Population projections for Argyll and Bute: NRS' 2016-based population projections

1.  Summary

The National Records of Scotland (NRS) published 2016-based population projections for sub-national areas in March 2018.
The 2016-based population projections indicate that, within Argyll and Bute, there will be:

  • A decrease in the total population of 3.4% over the next 10 year projection period (2016- 2026)
  • A decrease of 6.4% in the number and proportion of 0 to 15 year olds
  • A decrease of 36.3% in the number and proportion of 16 - 64 year olds - working age population
  • An increase of 1.8% in the number and proportion of 65 to 74 year olds
  • An increase of 30% in the number and proportion of individuals age 75 and over.

Over the next 10 years, the population of Argyll and Bute is projected to decrease by 4.7% due to natural change (more deaths than births). Total net migration (net migration within Scotland, from overseas and from the rest of the UK) is projected to result in a population increase of 1.4% over the same period, however, is not sufficient to compensate.

2.  Context

NRS produces sub-national population projections every two years.  NRS's sub-national projections provide estimates of the future population of local authority and health board areas. 

The latest sets of sub-national projections are based on the 2016-based Mid-Year Estimates, published on 28 March 2018.

In order to make the projections, assumptions have to be made about:

  • Future fertility rates
  • Future mortality rates
  • Migration.

Assumptions are based on past trends, projecting them forward into the future, year by year.  Of the three components of change, the hardest to predict is migration.

Projections make no allowance for the impact of policies or any exceptional socio-economic changes that might affect future populations.  Indeed, any policies that are developed in response to issues raised by projections may, if successful, change patterns of population growth away from those projected.

Population projections should, therefore, be seen as indicators of change rather than as definitive predictions.

Over the period 2016 to 2026, the total population of Scotland is projected to increase from 5.40 million to 5.58million.  However, the NRS sub-national projections indicate that there will be regional variations within Scotland.  Of the 32 Scottish Local Authorities, 24 are expected to show population growth and 8 – including Argyll and Bute – are expected to experience population decline.

3. Population projections for Argyll and Bute

NRS has assumed for the latest set of projections that there will be a small increase in migration into Argyll and Bute combined with a higher number of predicted deaths than births which means that the population for Argyll and Bute is projected to decline. Between 2016 and 2026, the population is projected to crease from 87,130 to 84,170. This is a decrease of 3.4%, which compares to a projected increase of 3.2% for Scotland as a whole.

The projected changes in Argyll and Bute’s population are shown in figure 1 and table 1.

As well as absolute population numbers in Argyll and Bute changing, the age profile of the population is expected to change, with proportions of 0 to 15s and working age populations decreasing, and the proportions of the pensionable-age population increasing. 

Figure 1: Population Projection Argyll and Bute 2016 to 2026

Population Projections 2016 to 2026

Table 1: Projected changes to Argyll and Bute's population by age group 2016-2016

Age Group     2016       2026      % change        Scotland % change   
All ages87,13084,170-3.43.2
0 to 1513,23813,393-6.41.7
16 to 248,7466,632-24.2-9.0
25 to 4417,44317,185-1.55.4
45 to 6426,14723,377-10.6-3.5
65 to 7512,22112,4451.812.5
75 and over9,33512,13830.027.3


Figure 2: Projected changes to Argyll and Bute's population by age group 2016 - 2026

Projected changes to Argyll and Bute’s population by age group

Figure 3: The projected population percentage change by age group 2016 - 2026

The projected population percentage change by age group 2016 - 2016