THE population of the Highlands has increased at one of the highest rates in Scotland showing a population growth that spans the age range.
The latest Census figures released by the National Register of Scotland, show that the Highland’s population has risen by 23,000 between 2001 and 2011 to 232,000.
The growth of 11% is a higher rate of increase than across Scotland and is the second highest in Scotland behind Aberdeenshire.
The national figures show that Scotland’s population has increased by 5% to 5,295,000 since 2001.
There has been growth in the under-five population, the working age population – particularly the 40-64 age group and amongst the older age groups.
There was an 11% increase in the number of children under 5, compared to a 6% increase across Scotland. There has been a 22% increase in the number of people living in Highland between 65 and 79 and a 32% increase in those over the age of 80. This compares with a 19% increase in the population of over 80s in Scotland.
The figures also provide a gender breakdown, which show that there are 118,700 women living in Highland and 113,500 men living in Highland.
The growth in the younger age groups has been expected and Highland Council and the Community Planning Partnership say they have been committed to promoting the area as child and family friendly. Compared to other authorities, Highland has experienced one of the highest increases in the number of 0 – 5 year olds, and is one of only three areas in Scotland that shows an increase in the number of 0 – 15 year olds.
The growth in the number of people over the age of 65 is a pattern repeated across Scotland, excluding the city councils. 17% of the population of Scotland are now aged over 65, this compares to 19% of Highland’s population.
Councillor Alasdair Christie, chairman of the Highland Council’s adult and children’s services Committee said: “The confirmation of increasing numbers of children in our communities is very good news. We want families to be confident that Highland is a place where children can grow up happy and confident, and where they can fulfil their potential. When other parts of Scotland have a reducing population, we welcome the fact that Highland’s towns and villages have increasing numbers of children and young people.
“We also welcome the role that increasing numbers of older people are playing in our communities. Along with the majority of other councils in Scotland we have known for some time that we have an ageing population. This brings many benefits, and older people can be full and active contributors in the life of the Highlands. Indeed, increasing numbers of local voluntary activities are being supported by our older population.
“The council and NHS Highland have also recognised that our services need to develop, to support the older population, and help them stay fit and healthy, and living at home for as long as they can. That is why we have integrated services for adults, and why we are investing more in community-based provision.”