Skip to content
Glasgow City Council

Briefing 14: Demographic Change in Glasgow

Contact us


In the lead up to the 2022 census results, certain trends as shown by existing data sources have been identified which the census will confirm, challenge, and provide further information. 

In this Briefing the focus is on three trends that are all linked to demographic change and which will have a considerable impact on the city in the coming years.

Age Composition

There is already some discussion on trends in Scotland overall regarding the increasing number and proportion of elderly people in the population.  The context in Scotland is that the number of people aged 65+ is increasing, while the number of births has been in decline and is starting to have an effect on the labour supply.  The trends in Glasgow are quite different. 

The table below shows that the 2021 mid-year population estimate of Glasgow is back to the 1991 level, after decades of being lower.

Table 1: Age Composition in Glasgow















































Note: 2021 data for 25-44 age group is from 2020.  Source: Mid-Year Population Estimates, National Records of Scotland.

The main aspect is that the population increase in Glasgow has been due to an increase in the working age population and in particular the 25-44 year age group, which now comprises more than one third of the city's population.  Using 2020 data, 34.6% of Glasgow's population is in the 25-44 age group, and this compares with 26.2% for Scotland.  The 25-44 age group share in Scotland has fallen from 26.4% in 2011, 29.2% in 2001, and 29.3% in 1991.

Another way of viewing this is shown by data on the median age of the population, as provided by National Records of Scotland, which shows that

  • Glasgow has the lowest median age in Scotland, 36 compared with the Scottish median of 42;
  • Glasgow is also lower than the median age of surrounding areas such as East Dunbartonshire (46), East Renfrewshire (44), Inverclyde (47), North Lanarkshire (42), Renfrewshire (43), South Lanarkshire (44) and West Dunbartonshire (43);
  • Some areas have a median age of 50: Argyll & Bute, Dumfries & Galloway, Scottish Borders, South Ayrshire and the Western Isles.

Diversity and Migration

As previously mentioned in other Briefings, the main reason for the increase in population in Glasgow has been trends in migration.  Glasgow loses population to the rest of Scotland, while gaining population from moves from the rest of the UK and from overseas.

Table 2: Migration trends in Glasgow





 Scotland In-




 Scotland Out-




 Scotland Net




 UK In-




 UK Out-




 UK Net




 Overseas In-




 Overseas Out-




 Overseas Net




Source: National Records of Scotland

This pattern of migration has clear implications on the age profile of the city's population.  The only age group in which net migration is positive is the 15-29 age group, which is also the largest single component of migration.  Table 3 shows the data for the most recent available years.

Table 3: Glasgow: Net Migration from all areas by Age Group

 Age Group






 0-14 years






 15-29 years






 30-44 years






 45-59 years


















Source: National Records of Scotland.  Net migration is in-migration minus out-migration; there are some missing records.

This shows that migration trends have contributed to the increase in the younger part of the working age population.  Not only that; the trends also suggest that in-migration from overseas has also increased the level of diversity in the population of Glasgow.  Other aspects of diversity are shown by data from other sources, such as:

  • People/households from EU with settled status, 49,300 settled/pre-settled (UK Govt)
  • Foreign students, 22,000 out of 84,000 (Higher Education Statistics Agency)
  • People with a National Insurance number born overseas, 76,300 since 2012 (Department of Work and Pensions, not a measure of residence as people may subsequently move location)
  • The established ethnic minority population 31,000 (2011 census).

Employment and Economy

For residents in employment, there has been a considerable increase in Glasgow which has been greater than the increase in surrounding areas and in Scotland.

Table 4: Resident Employment Rate

































Source: Annual Population Survey Resident Employment Rate, Office for National Statistics.  NGC is the Non-Glasgow Conurbation and consists of East and West Dunbartonshire, North and South Lanarkshire, Renfrewshire and East Renfrewshire, and Inverclyde.

This survey-based data source shows increases in employment numbers and in the proportion of the working age population in employment; and implies that the gap between Glasgow and Scotland has effectively disappeared.  This represents a major change over the last ten years, and the census results will be valuable in confirming if this has taken place and in providing further information.

Further information on the occupational sectors within employment in Glasgow is provided by the Annual Population Survey Workplace Analysis.  This data source shows that the largest single occupational sector in Glasgow is now science, research, engineering and technical professionals; which has more than doubled since 2012 (21,700) to 2022 (45,300).  Table 5 shows data that takes the sector as a whole, expressing the data as the number of workplace jobs in the area, combining professionals with associate professionals.  This is a considerable change; the census should provide a perspective that can verify this change and provide further information.

Table 5: Science, Research, Engineering and Technical Professional and Associate Professional


      Jul 2011-Jun 2012

        Jul 2016-Jun 2017

       Jul 2021-Jun 2022



 % All Jobs  


 % All Jobs  


 % All Jobs      






















Source: Annual Population Survey Workplace Analysis, Office for National Statistics

Between 2012 and 2022, workplace jobs in Glasgow increased by 15.9%, from 395,600 to 458,600; more than double the increase in the NGC (6.5%) and three times the increase in Scotland (5.3%). 

Themes using Data from Different Sources

The census will provide additional information, albeit with the proviso that the response rate in Glasgow was lower than in Scotland in general.  Brought together, the trends are suggesting that

  • Glasgow is experiencing its own form of demographic transition, based on an increasingly diverse younger working age population that is also increasing in number;
  • This is feeding into increases in the number and proportion of people in employment;
  • The quality of employment is improving and is consistent with a move towards a knowledge-based economy.

It cannot be stressed enough that these trends need to be supported by other data sources such as the census to confirm these changes, and their extent.  A preliminary analysis points to Glasgow being on a trajectory of change that is different to that in the rest of Scotland and in particular to the situation in the local authorities surrounding Glasgow; it is also different to the situation that faced the city during the 1990s and the early part of the 2000s.  Further Briefings will continue on these themes and on other aspects of these changes.




Contact us

Share this page:

A to Z:

Council Services