East Lothian’s population grew by 12.6% between 2011 and 2022 – the second fastest rate in Scotland.

The newly-released census shows that the county’s population was 112,300 as of May 2022. This is 2,000 (1.8%) higher than the last mid-year estimate made by National records of Scotland for June 2022 – 110,300.

East Lothian’s population increased from 90,088 in 2001 to 99,717 in 2011 (10.7%) and then to 112,300 in 2022 (12.6%), so the county has had by far the biggest rise in population of any local authority area in Scotland from 2001 to 2022 – 24.6%. Our % increase in population over these 21 years was over three times higher than the % increase in Scottish population, 7.4%

East Lothian is the only area where there was a 10% or more increase in population between the 2001 and 2011 and 2011 and 2022 censuses.

In 2001 East Lothian had the 23rd highest population amongst 32 Scottish councils; by 2011, we had the  21st highest population; and by 2022 we have the 19th highest. 

Other findings show that 52.1% of East Lothian’s population are female and 47.9% are male; compared to the Scottish figures of 51.4% females and 48.6% males.

Between 2011 and 2022 the population proportions by Age Group have changed in line with the Scottish figures – slightly lower proportion in 0-14 age group, about 2.5% lower in 15-64 age group and 3.3% more in the 65+ age group.

East Lothian has 11,000 over 75s – 9.8% of our overall population compared to the Scottish average of 9.0%.

Scotland’s Census 2022 estimated the number of households (with at least one usual resident) in East Lothian to be 48,800; an increase of 5,900 (13.7%) from Census 2011.

In 2022 there were an average of 2.3 people living in 48,800 households compared to a slightly higher average of 2.32 people in 42,900 households in 2011. The Scottish comparator figures are 2.23 in 2011 and 2.17 in 2022.

Council Leader Norman Hampshire said:

“The results of Scotland’s Census 2022 make for very interesting reading as they shine a light on so many different aspects of demographics and population change at both a local and national level.

“We have known for quite some time that East Lothian was one of Scotland’s fastest growing areas. However, the results show that population growth is already more significant than projected, and it has been sustained for over 20 years.

“The last long term projections based on 2018 estimates (published March 2020) suggested that East Lothian’s population would rise to 113,400 by 2028.  But we already have a population of 112,300 by June 2022 so are likely to hit the 113,400 level by mid-2023.

“The council has been working hard to achieve sustainable economic growth and build on our strong track record of delivering high-quality services to our local communities.

“But despite the rate of growth, our grant from central government – which provides most of the money we need to run services - is the third lowest in Scotland per head of population. There is no recognition within the grant received of East Lothian’s increasing population and the recurring rising costs that arise, for example the staffing and running of new schools.

“Council tax provides around a quarter of the council’s resource base. While it is true that people living in new housing pay council tax that previously wouldn’t have been available as income, this doesn’t cover the cost of providing services provided to them - such as schools, bin collections or social care.

“Income overall is not keeping pace with the cost of delivering services and this is putting huge pressure on our budget, with a significant funding shortfall anticipated in the years ahead.

“The reality is that, without further support, we will be unable to sustain the level of services currently being provided. The results of Scotland’s Census 2022 therefore highlight the importance of ensuring financial sustainability in the years ahead so that we are positioned to deal with the very acute financial difficulties facing local government, particularly the very significant, immediate and ongoing financial pressures in East Lothian associated with supporting population growth.”

Find out more about the census.

Published: Thursday, 14th September 2023