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Summary: Age and Culture

Age and Culture

The Scottish Household Survey is the primary source for measuring both the attendance at, and participation rates for, cultural events and activities in Scotland.

The data is used to inform the Scotland Performs National Indicator to 'increase cultural engagement'; engagement is measured as the percentage of adults who have either attended or visited a cultural event or place or participated in an activity like reading or playing a musical instrument. In 2016, around 9 in 10 adults were culturally engaged in Scotland (92%).



Levels of cultural attendance were generally higher among the younger age groups, although there were differences in the cultural activities attended by younger and older age groups. For those aged 16-44, visits to the cinema and live music were generally higher than for other age groups. Those aged 45+ attended more classical music concerts than younger age groups.  Cinema was the most popular cultural event to attend for all age groups under the age of 60. Overall, the 2016 results show that around 8 out of 10 people of all age groups attended a cultural event or visited a place of culture.

SHS figures show that cultural attendance at specific events or places varies by age for particular events or places. For example, around 86% of adults aged 16-24 said they had been to the cinema in the past year compared to only 19% of those aged 75 and over. However, visits to classical music events (including the opera) was highest in adults aged 45 and over.



Across all age groups, reading for pleasure was the most popular cultural activity. The proportion of those reading for pleasure increased with age. When reading is excluded, the overall participation rate fell as age group increases. For example, the 2016 results show that around 66% of adults aged 16-24 participated in a cultural activity, excluding reading. This compares to 38% of adults aged 75 and over.


Source: Scottish Household Survey Annual Report, 2016


Useful Links

Age page

Culture page

National Performance Framework

National Performance Framework

Fifty National Indicators enable progress towards the achievement of the National Outcomes and ultimately the delivery of the Purpose to be tracked.

Indicators are chosen to show how the Scottish Government are progressing on the range of Outcomes. Equality breakdowns illustrate how protected groups are progressing towards achievement of the National Outcomes, particularly ‘we have tackled the significant inequalities in Scottish society’.

National Indicator number 39: Widen use of the internet, data tables

National Indicator number 41: Increase cultural engagement, data tables

- progress against these National Indicators, broken down by Age, can be found under the 'What more do we know about the National indicator?' heading.

Publications and Outputs

Publications and Outputs

Scottish Government Equality Outcomes: Age Evidence Review (2013)

A comprehensive review of available evidence in relation to age equality.

Scottish Household Survey Annual Report - Scotland's People

People, Culture & Heritage in Scotland - Topic Report on results from the 2013 Scottish Household Survey

This report contains data for a number of equality groups on participation in cultural activities and attendance at cultural events.



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

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.

Department for Culture, Media and Sport

Creative Scotland

Museums Galleries Scotland

Historic Scotland






Culture Analysis

Office of the Chief Statistician and Strategic Analysis


St Andrew's House

Edinburgh EH1 3DG