Although Scotland's population was declining in the latter part of the 20th century, it is now at an all-time high. The recorded population in the 2011 census was 5,295,000, an increase of more than 5 percent since the last census and the fastest growth rate in 100 years. The Scottish government believes the way to continue this trend is to attract more immigration by creating high-quality jobs.
Prior to the 2011 census, the population of Scotland had been in steady decline from a high of 5,227,000 in the mid-1970s to 5,055,000 in 2002. The Scottish ministry attributes the reversal of this trend to an influx of several hundred thousand people who entered the country to find work as well as an increase in life expectancy due to improved public health. The population is aging, however, which is a matter of some concern. The census of 2011 is the first in which the number of Scots over 65 was greater than the number under 15. Additionally, there are now 230,000 Scots over the age of 80 versus 93,000 10 years ago.
The Scottish government has created a Government Economic Strategy to support population growth. This policy is multifaceted and includes initiatives to create a supportive business environment and a well-educated, healthy workforce. The government has put in place a number of programs that support the development of low-carbon technology, which it hopes will attract talented young people in search of meaningful work. Additionally, the country is moving forward with plans to rebuild its infrastructure, including the Forth Replacement Crossing, the largest civil engineering project in Scotland in over 20 years.