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Summary: Age

The Scottish Government has published a guidance note on collecting information on age.                                                                                                                      

Business, Enterprise and Tourism
  • Self-employment rates tend to be higher for disabled people. In 2016, the self-employment rate for disabled people was 15% compared to 12% for non-disabled people.
  • Self-employment rates tend to be higher for minority ethnic groups. In 2016, the self-employment rate for ethnic minorities was 16% compared to 13% for those of white ethnic origin.
  • Out of the 327,200 self-employed people in Scotland in 2016, 112,900 were women (35%) while 214,400 were men (65%).  Female self-employment has increased over recent years, from 76,000 in 2007 to 112,900 in 2016, representing a rise of 49%. Although male self-employment also experienced a rise over the same time period, it was significantly smaller at 14%.

      male female self employment rates 2016    

 Source: Annual Population Survey (January to December)


More facts on this topic: Age and Business, Enterprise and Tourism page

More equality characteristics for Business, Enterprise and Tourism: Business, Enterprise and Tourism page

Children and Families
  • The number of children on the child protection register has fluctuated regularly, but there is a general upwards trend. The total has increased by 33 per cent between 2000 and 2016 (from 2,050 to 2,723). The number of children registered in 2016 is below 2014's historic high; it has fallen 4 per cent since last year.

Sources: Scottish Government, Children's Social Work Statistics publication


More facts on this topic: Age and Children and Families Page

More equality characteristics for Children and Families: Children and Families Page

Crime and Justice

Risk of Crime

  • The Scottish Crime and Justice Survey 2014-15 estimates that around one in seven (14.5%) adults aged 16 or over was the victim of at least one crime.

  • The risk of being a victim of any crime decreased with age. One fifth (20.4%) of 16 to 24 year olds were a victim of crime, compared with a 6.8% of those 60 or over.

  • The risk of being a victim of violent crime decreased with age. The risk of being a victim of violent crime was 6.0% for 16-24 year olds compared with 0.4% of those aged 60 or over.

    Source: Scottish Crime and Justice Survey 2014-15


  • Over the past 10 years the gap between the number of convictions per 1,000 population for younger people compared to older people has become smaller. This has been driven by a fall in the number of convictions per 1,000 population for younger people, whilst the rate for older people (aged 31 or above) has remained relatively stable.

  • In 2005-06 the age with the highest conviction rate was those aged 18 at 102 convictions per 1,000 population. Since 2005-06 the age with the highest conviction rate has shifted upwards. The highest conviction rate was for those aged 26-30 in 2014-15 and stood at 51 convictions per 1,000 population. Conviction rates by age follow similar trends for both men and women.
  • Source: Criminal Proceedings in Scotland, 2014-15


More facts on this topic: Age and Crime and Justice page

More equality characteristics for Crime and Justice: Crime and Justice page



  • Levels of cultural attendance is generally higher among the younger age groups. The impact of including cinema trips in the measure is more noticeable in the youngest age group, where 9 in 10 adults aged 16-24 had attended some sort of cultural event or place in the last year. When cinema is excluded, attendance at cultural events or places is highest for those aged 35-44; this is largely driven by visits to museums and historic places.


  • Like attendance rates, participation in cultural activities tends to be lower in the older age groups. We found that across all age groups, participation rates are largely driven by reading for pleasure. When reading is excluded the overall participation rate falls much faster as the age group increases. For example, around 60% of adults aged 16-24 had participated in a cultural activity, excluding reading, in the past year. This compares to 34% of adults aged 75 and over.

Source: Scottish Household Survey Annual Report, 2014


More facts on this topic: Age and Culture page

More equality characteristics for Culture: Culture page

  • In 2016, 51% of Scotland‘s population were women and 49% were men. This proportion has not changed much since 1947.

Source: NRS Mid Year Population Estimates Scotland Mid-2016

Population Pyramid Mid 2015


More facts on this topic: Age Demographics page

More equality characteristics for Demographics: Demographics page

Employability, Skills and Lifelong Learning
  • Young people (aged 16-21) made up 41% of all entrants to Higher Education in Scotland in 2014-15. The proportion of people entering Higher Education in Scotland in age bands 16-20 and 21-24 increased between 2006-07 and 2014-15 while the proportion of students in age bands 25-59 and 60+ decreased.

  • In 2014-15, 49% of students (Full-Time Equivalent) in Further Education in colleges were 16-19. 20% were 20-24, 29.4% were over 25, and 3% were under 16.

    Source:  Higher Education Students and Qualifiers at Scottish Institutions 2014-15, Learning for All: Measures of Success 2016


  • 76% of Modern Apprenticeship starts in 2016-17 were aged between 16 and 24. As of 31 March 2016, 60% of those in training following a Modern Apprenticeship were aged 16-19, and 23% were aged 20-24.
  • Source: Modern Apprenticeship Statistics, 2016-17 Q4



More facts on this topic: Age and Employability, Skills and Lifelong Learning page

More equality characteristics for Employability, Skills and Lifelong Learning: Employability, Skills and Lifelong Learning page

Health, Social Care and Sport
  • In 2015 the vast majority of both Social Care* at home clients (75%) and long stay care home residents (89%) were aged 65 years old and over.
  • * Social Care services refer to: Home Care, Telecare / Community alarm, Housing Support, Direct Payments and Meals services.

    Source: Social Care Survey / Care Home Census 


  • In 2015, the proportion of adults reporting to be in 'very good' or 'good' health declined with age from 88% of those aged 16-24 to 55% of those aged 75 and over.  Levels of 'very good' health for children ranged between 65% and 73% for those aged 0-11 but declined from 63% for those aged 12-13 to 52% for those aged 14-15. 
  • Levels of wellbeing were significantly lower for women aged 16-24 than for other age groups of men and women, in 2015Levels of wellbeing were significantly lower for women aged 16-24 than for other age groups of men and women
  • Source: Scottish Health Survey 2015


  • Prevalence of multiple long-term conditions was much higher among older adults, 2012-2015

Prevalence of multiple long-term conditions was much higher among older adults, 2012-2015

Source: Scottish Health Survey 2015


  • The average age of individuals experiencing a drug-related death has increased. 
  • By 2015, over 35s made up over two thirds of drug-related deaths (73%).

 By 2015, over 35s made up over two thirds of drug-related deaths (73%).

Source: Drug Related Deaths in Scotland in 2015


More facts on this topic: Age and Health, Social Care and Sport page

More equality characteristics for Health, Social Care and Sport: Health, Social Care and Sport page

Housing and Regeneration
  • Households where the highest income householder (HIH) is aged 60 years or more, have had continuously higher rates of owner-occupation since 2009. Whilst the rates of owner-occupation for HIH’ s aged 60 and over have remained relatively constant of late, the rates for the other age groups have been in decline, most notably for those aged 16-34. However in 2015 the rate amongst this group increased by two percentage points.

Source: Scottish Household Survey, 2015


  • Figures for sheltered accommodation have fallen from about 17,140 units in 2006 to around 14,722 in 2015.

Source:  Housing Statistics for Scotland - Housing for Older People, those with Disabilities and those with Supported Tenancies


  • People aged 75 and over are consistently less likely to feel ‘very/fairly safe’ walking alone in their neighbourhood at night compared to adults as a whole: 76% compared to 85% respectively.


Source:  Scottish Household Survey 2015


  • Homelessness is biased towards younger age groups.  For example,  in 2015/16 10% of main applicants assessed as homeless or potentially homeless were aged 16 to 19 years old.  However only 1% of households in Scotland are headed by someone aged 16 to 19 years old.  Similarly, 20 to 24 years olds make up 18% of cases assessed as homeless or potentially homeless, but only 4% of households are headed by someone in this age group.

    Source: HL1 Dataset as at 25 May 2016 and NRS Household Projections for Scotland, 2012-based (30 July 2014)

More Information

More facts on this topic: Age and Housing and Regeneration page

More equality characteristics for Housing and Regeneration: Housing and Regeneration page

Income and Poverty  
  • In 2014-15, 22% of Scotland’s children were living in relative poverty (After Housing Costs), the same as in 2013/14.

Source: http://www.gov.scot/Publications/2016/06/3468/downloads


More facts on this topic: Age and Income and Poverty page

More equality characteristics for Income and Poverty: Income and Poverty page

Labour Market
  • In 2016 the employment rate for those aged 16-64 stood at 72.9%.  The employment rate was highest for 35-49 year olds (81.9%) and lowest for the 16-24 year old age group (55.7%).

Source: Annual Population Survey 

Employment rates by age and gender 2016

For the latest labour market statistics see the monthly briefing papers


More facts on this topic: Age and Labour Market page

More equality characteristics for Labour Market: Labour Market page

Local Government
  • In 2015, older adults were more likely than younger adults to agree with positive statements about the performance of their local council. For example, 53% of those aged over 75 agreed that their council provided high quality services, compared to 41% of those aged 16 to 24.

Source: Scottish Household Survey (2015)


More facts on this topic: Age and Local Government page

More equality characteristics for Local Government: Local Government page

Rural and Environment
  • Rural areas have a lower percentage of the population in the 16-34 age group but a higher proportion of people aged 45 and over. For example, in  2014 17% of the population of remote rural areas were 16-34 year olds. Conversely, 55% of the remote rural population were aged 45 and over.


Percentage age distribution of Population by Geographic Area, 2014


Source: National Records of Scotland, 2015 (Population Estimates by Urban Rural Classification (2001 Data Zone based))

Zone based))


More facts on this topic: Age and Rural and Environment page

More equality characteristics for Rural and Environment: Rural and Environment page

School Education
  • In September 2016, the average age of teachers in publicly funded schools was 41, however 16% of teachers were aged 55 or over.


Source: Summary Statistics for Schools in Scotland, No.7: 2016 Edition, table 3.4



More facts on this topic: Age and School Education page 

More equality characteristics for School Education: School Education page 

Third Sector
  • After the age of 74, the level of volunteering declines. In 2015, 18% of men and 20% of women aged 75 and over volunteered in the last 12 months, compared to 27% of adults overall.

Source: Scottish Household Survey (2015)


More facts on this topic: Age and Third Sector page

More equality characteristics for Third Sector: Third Sector page

Transport and Travel
  • Over three quarters of those under 60 had travelled the previous day when interviewed for the Scottish Household Survey. 51% of those aged 80 and over had travelled the previous day. This compares with 68% for those aged 70-79 and 75% for those aged 60-69.


Percentage of adults owning a driving license by age - graph

Source:   Transport and Travel in Scotland 2015, Table TD1


More facts on this topic: Age and Transport and Travel page

More equality characteristics for Transport and Travel: Transport and Travel page

Publications and Output

Publications and Output

Scottish Household Survey 2015 (2016) - This report presents reliable and up-to-date information on the composition, characteristics (including age) and behaviour of Scottish households, both nationally and at a sub-national level.

Scottish Household Survey Local Authority Tables 2015 (2016) - The SHS Annual Report presents reliable and up-to-date information on the composition, characteristics and behaviour of Scottish households at a national level. The SHS 2015 Local Authority Tables provide comparable information at sub-national level (including for age).

Characteristics of migrants in Scotland: Analysis of the 2011 Census (Revised October 2016) Compares characteristics (including Age) of migrants from European Economic Area (EEA) and non-EEA countries with the Scotland-born population and migrants from the rest of the UK.

Scottish Surveys Core Questions 2014 (2016) - Official statistics publication on equality groups across a range of measures from harmonised questions across the major SG population surveys. This publication provides statistics centred around protected equality characteristics and sub-national geographies: age and sex, disability, ethnic groups, religion, sexual orientation, country of birth, deprivation and Health Board/Police Scotland Division.

Equality Statement: Scottish Draft Budget 2016-17  - The Equality Budget Statement (EBS) ensures that we understand, as far as possible, the impacts of the spending decisions that we make. This document contains a section on age, with a focus on youngest and oldest adults. 

Analysis of Equality Results from the 2011 Census - Part 2 (2015) Brings together relevant statistics from the census and other sources to paint a highly detailed picture of equality in Scotland. The policy areas covered are Labour Market, Education, Housing and Transport. The BSL section contains data by age.

Analysis of Equality Results from the 2011 Census (2014)  - Analysis of Equality Results from the 2011 Census, including Ethnicity, Gypsy/Travellers, Religion, Disability and BSL and contains data by age.

Scottish Government Equality Outcomes: Age Evidence Review (2013) - A comprehensive review of available evidence in relation to age equality.

The Position of Scotland’s Equality Groups. Revisiting Resilience in 2011 - Discussion and analysis to inform an understanding of how well positioned people in Scotland with equalities characteristics are to access the benefits of economic recovery.

A Review of Literature on Effective Interventions that Prevent and Respond to Harm Against Adults (2007) - This report presents a review of literature on interventions relating to different types of harm against adults (physical; psychological; financial; sexual; discriminatory; and neglect).

Characteristics of Adults in Scotland with Long-Term Health Conditions - Research Findings (2007) - This paper summarises an analysis of existing Scottish Household Survey and Scottish Health Survey data to provide a profile of the characteristics, circumstances and support needs of people with long term health conditions.

All Our Futures: Planning for a Scotland with an Ageing Population: 3 The Evidence Base (2007) - Draws on a variety of quantitative and qualitative research and statistical data to bring together some of the key evidence on older people.




The Scottish Government website provides further information on accessing Scottish Household Survey data.

Annual Population Survey, Scottish Crime and Justice Survey and Scottish Household Survey microdata is available (through a ‘special licence’ scheme) from the UK Data Archive.

Scottish Health Survey - via UK Data Service.

Scotland's Census Data Explorer - download data, charts and tables from the 2011 Census.

statistics.gov.scot  provides access to the official statistics datasets, which can be broken down by age:


A range of age categories can be selected, for example:

Working Age


16 and Over






Future Developments

Future Developments

Results from the 2011 Census have been published throughout the year. More detailed data is available on the census website data explorer.

Select below for further information on:

Planned 2011 Census output releases


External Links

External Links

Please note that you will leave the Scottish Government web site by clicking on any of the following links, and that the Scottish Government and its staff are not responsible for content external to this web site. Any research has been carried out independently of the Scottish Government and the findings do not necessarily represent the views of the Scottish Government or Scottish Ministers.

Age Scotland Publications and Research - is Scotland becoming a better place for older people?

Equality and Human Rights Commission - Focus on age equality.

Government Equalities Office - The Government Equalities Office (GEO) is part of the UK Government and has responsibility for equality legislation in GB.