More Centenarians in Scotland

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The number of people in Scotland living for more than a century continues to grow.

Figures published today by the National Records of Scotland, based on the 2001 Census, estimate that in 2011 there were 830 centenarians living in Scotland.

Audrey Robertson, Acting Registrar General for Scotland, said:

“The number of centenarians living in Scotland has been steadily rising, from 580 in 2002 to 830 in 2011, which is a growth of 43 per cent.

“Around eight out of every 10 centenarians are women. Estimates of the number of people aged 90 to 99 show relatively big increases in 2010 and 2011. This is partly due to births in 1920 and 1921 being much higher than in the preceding years. The number of births in 1920 was the highest since the introduction of national registration in 1855.”

A century ago living to a hundred was very uncommon, but this changed at the beginning of the 21st century when estimates showed there were over 500 people aged 100 years old and over in Scotland. The number of centenarians has been increasing ever since.

The overwhelming majority of centenarians are women. In 2011, women accounted for 700 of Scotland’s centenarians (84 per cent) while 130 men had reached the milestone. Although the male population aged 90 to 99 increased substantially from 2009 to 2011, almost three quarters of people in their 90s are women (73 per cent).

Since 2002, the number of centenarians relative to the rest of the population has increased, especially over the last few years. But there are still less than two centenarians for every 10,000 people (1.6 per 10,000).

There is no register of centenarians, so the figures are estimates based on population information rolled forward from the 2001 Census. Therefore we do not know who the oldest person in Scotland is.

NRS uses ‘age at death’ data to build up a profile of the number of elderly people in Scotland. For example, if someone died in 2006 aged 105, it would mean that he/she was alive and aged 104 in 2005 and 103 in 2004 etc. By collating ‘age at death’ data for a series of years, it becomes possible to make a good estimate of the number of people of a given age alive in any particular year.

To make estimates for 2011, it is not possible to use death data. An average of the previous five years’ age profiles is used to produce an estimate of the number of deaths in the most recent year.

The estimates are only produced for the whole of Scotland because the method is not sufficiently reliable to produce estimates for smaller populations.

These estimates are quality assured against figures compiled from Department for Work and Pensions databases.