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26 October 2017, 12:11
The number of pensioners in Scotland is expected to rise by a quarter over the next 25 years, with new official statistics projecting a growing and ageing population.
The latest data from the National Records of Scotland (NRS) has projected a population increase from 5.4 million in 2016 to 5.58 million in 2026, continuing to grow to 5.69 million in 2041 - a rise of 5% over the 25 year period.
During this time, the number of people of pensionable age will increase by 25%, while over 75s will rise sharply by 79%.
Meanwhile, the number of people of working age will increase by 1%, and the number of children will decrease by 2%.
The number of deaths will continue to exceed the number of births every year, statisticians said.
They said all of the projected increase in Scotland's population over the next 10 years was due to migration into Scotland.
More than half - 58% - is projected to come from overseas, with 42% from the rest of the UK.
The projections are based on the latest population estimates for 2016, and provide an indication of the future size and age structure of Scotland's population based on a set of assumptions about future fertility, mortality and migration.
The Scottish Government highlighted additional figures designed to illustrate the effects of differing levels of European Union migration to Scotland.
The figures - which were prepared by the Office for National Statistics, but do not have national statistics status - provide illustrations of the effect on Scotland's population if EU migration was half of its current level, or zero.
A situation where EU migration falls to half of current levels would see Scotland's population rise by 4% over the 25 year period, while no future migration from the bloc would see it increase by 2%, peaking in 2032 and then declining until 2041.
In the zero EU migration scenario, Scotland's working age population is projected to decline by 3% over the next 25 years, while at the same time the pensioner population is projected to increase by 25%, resulting in an increase in the dependency ratio.
External Affairs Secretary Fiona Hyslop said: "These figures illustrate the critical importance of maintaining inward migration to Scotland - including maintaining the existing freedom of movement with European neighbours - to help increase Scotland's population and grow the economy.
"As our population ages, the continued availability of labour from across Europe is essential to meet our economic and social needs and to address potential skills shortages in all sectors of the labour market."