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Summary: Age and Rural and Environment

rural communitySummary: Age and 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 2016 18% of the population of remote rural areas were 16-34 year olds. This compares to 20% in accessible rural areas and 26% for the rest of Scotland.

  • Conversely, 56% of the remote rural population were aged 45 and over. The comparable figures in accessible rural areas and the rest of Scotland were 50% and 45% respectively.

Source: National Records of Scotland, 2016 (Population Estimates by Urban Rural Classification (2011 Data Zone based))


Percentage age distribution of Population by Geographic Area, 2016

  Age distribution for large urban and remote rural areas 2016

  • There is a higher proportion of older people living in rural areas compared to the rest of Scotland. In 2016 the proportion of people aged 65 or over was 20% in accessible rural areas was and 24% in remote rural areas compared to 18% in the rest of Scotland.

Source: National Records of Scotland, 2016 (Population Estimates by Urban Rural Classification (2011 Data Zone based))


  • Adults aged 75 and over were the least likely to visit the outdoors for recreation in 2016, compared to other age groups.

  • In 2016, 54% of those aged 16-24, 51% of those aged 25-34, 53% of those aged 35-44, 48% of those aged 45-59 and 47% of those aged 60-74 visited the outdoors at least once a week, compared with 32% of those aged 75 and over. Among the 75 plus age group, 34% did not visit the outdoors at all in the last year.

Source: Scottish Household Survey 2016


  • The youngest and the oldest age groups are less like to view climate change as an immediate and urgent problem. In 2016, 53% of those aged 16-24 and 54% of those aged 25-34 viewed climate change as an immediate and urgent problem, while 37% of people aged 75 years and over also viewed climate change as an immediate and urgent problem. This contrasts with other age bands where much higher proportions viewed climate change as an immediate danger (61% of 35-44 year olds, 57% of 45-59 year olds, and 58% of 60-74 year olds).

Perceived immediacy of the problem of climate change by age, 2016

Perception of Climate Change by Age 2016

Source: Scottish Household Survey 2016


Useful Links

Age page

Rural and Environment page


Publications and Outputs

Publications and Outputs

Rural Scotland Key Facts 2015

Access to outdoor recreation by older people in Scotland (2016) - This report details research on access to outdoor recreation for older people.

Mapping Flood Disadvantage in Scotland 2015 - This research identifies and maps the neighbourhoods in Scotland that are most disadvantaged by flooding. It looks at the likelihood of an area being flooded and the socio-demographic characteristics of people who live there. The research found that whilst there are no simple equality patterns in those at risk of flooding, older people and disabled people were less able to cope during and after flooding events.

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

The Experience of Rural Poverty in Scotland: Qualitative Research with Organisations Working with People Experiencing Poverty in Rural Areas (2009)

Factors inluencing rural migration decisions in Scotland (2010)

Housing issues for older people in rural areas (2008)

All Our Futures: planning for a Scotland with an ageing population. The evidence base (2007)

Growing up in rural Scotland (2008)

Drivers of youth out-migration from rural Scotland (Centre for Research on Families and Relationships, 2008)



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

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

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.

Scottish Environment Protection Agency

Scottish Natural Heritage

Special Study on Rural Poverty (SAC, 2008)

Statistics in more details


Rural and Environment