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Facts & figures - Scotland

Close Brothers Asset Finance has long had a presence in Scotland where we have offices in Glasgow (Transport) and Dundonald (Braemar Finance) and in this column we take a closer look at this fascinating country…


In 2020, Scotland’s population reached nearly 5.5 million, an increase of just over 400k since 2000, reversing a decline that started in 1974.

Despite the growth in population, Scotland’s crude birth rate is falling; crude birth rate indicates the number of live births occurring during the year, per 1,000 population estimated at midyear. In 1873 the figure was 35.6 – today it’s only 8.6.

Glasgow City is the largest population centre (636k) followed by Edinburgh (528k) and Fife (374k); the least populated areas are the islands of Scotland - such as Orkney - estimated to have only 22,000 people living there.


Apart from a dip during the financial crash of 2008, Scotland’s GDP (gross domestic product) has increased every year since 1998 - when it was £78bn - before reaching £167bn in 2019.

GDP grew fastest in 2011, when a growth rate of 3.8% was recorded following a contraction of 3.2% in 2009.

Between 2010 and 2020, the number of private sector businesses grew from 285k to 370k before falling away somewhat in 2021 to 342k.

Scotland’s unemployment rate hit 3.5% in February 2022, continuing its downward trend – in the winter of 1992/93 it was 10.8%. Women are more than twice as likely to be employed as men (2.2% women unemployed vs 4.8% men unemployed), while youth (16-24) unemployment sits at 5.9%.

The lockdowns during the pandemic had a hugely significant impact on the number of hours Scottish worked each week – for example:

  • Q1 2021 – 37 hours / week
  • Q1 2020 – 36.1 hours / week 
  • Q2 2021 – 32.4 hours / week


At the last Scottish general elections, the Scottish National Party (SNP) received the highest share of votes with 45%, followed by the Conservative Party (25%) and Labour (19%).


Scotland has long been a peaceful nation and that continues to be the case today, with most types of crimes falling, including homicides, thefts, bank robberies and drug offences.

Recorded crime levels have fallen consistently over the past 15 years – in 2004/5 there were 438k recorded crimes compared to 246.5k in 2020/21. Over the same period, the crime rate has fallen significantly from 862 per 10,000 population to 451.

While pupil numbers have been rising, teacher numbers have kept pace - In 2021, there were over 54.2k teachers in Scotland, with the majority working at either primary or secondary schools. This is a rise of 3.2% since 2013.