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Figures released today by the registrar general for Scotland estimate Scotland's population to have been 5,057,400 ...
Figures released today by the registrar general for Scotland estimate Scotland's population to have been 5,057,400 on June 30 2003, an increase of 2,600 on the previous year.

There were 6,500 more deaths than births continuing a trend of recent years. That natural reduction was more than counterbalanced by an estimated gain of 9,100 because more people migrated to Scotland than moved away.

Two changes explained most of the increase in Scotland's migration:

* people coming to Scotland from overseas exceeded emigrants by 700, compared with a loss of 9,700 in the previous year, although the number of new asylum-seekers - around 3,500 - was much the same as the previous year.

* Some 2,400 fewer people left Scotland to go to the rest of the UK in 2002-03, while the numbers moving in the opposite direction changed little.

Registrar general for Scotland, Duncan Macniven, said: I cannot say that this is a change in the trend for Scotland's population, partly because it is hard to measure the number of people who emigrate from the UK. The population increase, though welcome, is also very small.

2003 mid-year population estimates for council areas and health areas and an age analysis will be published on May 25. Comparable figures for England and Wales will be published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) in August 2004.

The 2001 Census results published in September 2002, showed that previous population estimates had exaggerated the population of Scotland by some 50,000 - largely because of errors in estimates of migration in the 1980s and 1990s. To ensure that future estimates do not continue to overestimate the population, a component for unattributable population change has been included in the latest figures - a reduction of 2,600 people. More information on these adjustments can be found on the GROS website.

The source of the information about overseas emigration and immigration is the International Passenger Survey. It is based on a small sample, and there is a higher risk of error than with the remainder of the population estimates. Further work is being undertaken to review the quality of the method and data sources used to estimate migration, in particular to reduce the level of unmeasured migration. A National Statistics Quality Review of International Migration Statistics was carried out by the ONS, and a report was published which recommended ways of improving the quality and accuracy of international migration. An implementation plan has been developed by ONS but it will be some time before improved data sources are available.

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