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Country Profiles: Key Statistics - Scotland, August 2012

Released: 13 August 2012 Download PDF

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Population density: by council area, 2010

Map showing range of population density in council areas within the Scotland region
Source: Office for National Statistics


  1. Mid-year population estimates published on 27 April 2011

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Scotland covers nearly a third of the total area of the UK (77,900 square kilometres (sq km)), making it the largest of the UK countries and English regions. Its geography is highly varied, from rural lowlands to barren uplands, and from large cities to uninhabited islands.

In mid-2010 Scotland had the lowest population density of any country or region in England in the UK with 67 people per sq km, most similar to Northern Ireland with 133 people per sq km.

More than 81 per cent of the population live in urban areas (those with a population of more than 3,000), covering less than 6 per cent of Scotland’s land area, mainly concentrated in a central belt around Glasgow and Edinburgh. By contrast, almost half of the land area is defined as very remote rural areas (those with a population of less than 3,000) and contained 3 per cent of the population in mid-2010.

Scotland had a population of 5.2 million in mid-2010, an increase of 3.1 per cent since 2001, compared with an increase of 5.3 per cent for the UK over the same period.

People aged 65 and over in 2010 made up 16.8 per cent of the population, compared with 17.5 per cent for the under-16s. This compares with averages for the UK of 16.6 per cent and 18.6 per cent respectively.

Life expectancy at birth in Scotland in the three-year period 2008 to 2010 was 75.8 years for males and 80.3 years for females compared with 78.1 and 82.1 years respectively for the UK.

Scotland was responsible for 8 per cent of the UK’s gross value added (GVA) in 2010. Labour productivity (gross value added per hour worked) in 2010 was 0.7 per cent below the UK average.

Scotland reduced its total greenhouse gas emissions by 24 per cent between 1990 and 2010.

Gross disposable household income (GDHI) of residents was £15,300 per head in 2010.

Scotland had one of the biggest decreases in house prices in 2011 at 4.6 per cent, compared with decreases in Wales (1.9 per cent) and Northern Ireland (8.5 per cent).

The employment rate stood at 71.2 per cent in the first quarter of 2012, compared with the UK rate of 70.5 per cent.

In April 2011, the median gross weekly earnings for full-time employees on adult rates who were resident in Scotland was £491, higher than Northern Ireland (£451) and Wales (£460) but lower than the UK as a whole (£501).

The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) average scores in 2009 for Scotland were reading 500, maths 499 and science 514, compared with average scores across the OECD of 500. Scores in Scotland, Northern Ireland and England were similar to each other in all three subjects and Wales scored the lowest of the four home nations in each subject.

The proportion of children living in workless households in the fourth quarter of 2011 was 15.8 per cent; this compares with England (15.7 per cent), Northern Ireland (15.8 per cent) and Wales (20.0 per cent).

The Regional Trends 43 article 'Rural and urban areas: comparing lives using rural/urban classifications' (2.81 Mb Pdf) looks at rural and urban areas statistically for several themes including population, using geographical classifications.

Source: Office for National Statistics

Background notes

  1. Notes and sources:

    All data are published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) unless stated below.

    The data section of this release provides more data.

    The mid-2010 population estimates are those published on 27 April 2011.

    Life expectancy figures reflect mortality among those living in the area in each time period, rather than mortality among those born in each area. More information is available in Guide to: Life expectancy in the United Kingdom.

    Gross value added (GVA) measures the economic output of an area. The estimates are workplace based, which allocates the incomes of individuals to their place of work.

    GVA per hour worked is one of the preferred measures of labour productivity . The labour productivity webpage provides access to the latest releases.

    Greenhouse gas data are from the Department for Environment and Rural Affairs.

    Gross disposable household income (GDHI) is a good indicator of the welfare of residents of an area. It covers the income received by households and non profit-making institutions serving households and is net of tax payments.

    The House Price Index is based on mix-adjusted house prices, which allow for differences between houses sold (for example type, number of rooms, location). The annual rate of change shown is percentage change between December 2010 and December 2011.

    Employment rates are seasonally adjusted Labour Force Survey (LFS) headline indicators, for all people aged 16 to 64.

    Median gross weekly earnings are residence-based estimates from the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE) for full-time employees on adult rates whose pay for the survey pay-period was not affected by absence.

    The OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) seeks to measure the extent to which students can apply the knowledge and skills they have learned at school to real-life challenges. OECD (2010), PISA 2009 Results: What Students Know and Can Do: Student Performance in Reading, Mathematics and Science (Volume I), OECD Publishing.

    Workless households for areas across the UK provides more information about the employment of household and the adults and children living in them.

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