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Statistics in more details

Summary: Disability Demographics

  • In 2011 1,040,000 people had a long-term activity-limiting health problem or disability.

Source: 2011 Scotland Census, (Table 8)


  • In 2011, the proportion of people in Scotland with a long-term activity-limiting health problem or disability was 20% (1,040,000 people), the same proportion as reported in 2001 (1,027,872 people).
  • The disability rate has stayed the same despite Scotland's ageing population.

See table QS303SC for statistics on Long-term health problem or disability at the Scotland, Council Area and Health Board level

UK-wide comparison

A higher proportion of people in Scotland (20%) reported a health problem or disability than the UK as a whole (18%). However Scotland recorded a lower proportion than Wales (23%) and Northern Ireland (21%).

A chart showing a UK wide comparison of long-term limiting health problem and disability prevalence in 2011

Source: Overview of Equality Results from the 2011 Census Release 2 (2014)


In 2011:

  • Inverclyde had the highest prevalence of long-term activity-limiting health problems or disability (24%) and Aberdeenshire the lowest (16%).
  • Glasgow City had a high prevalence (23%) despite the median age of its population being only 36 compared to the Scotland average of 41. All three Ayrshires reported high rates and the island councils varied noticeably - Shetland reported 17%, Orkney 19%, and Eilean Siar 21%.

Chart showing long-term limiting health problem or disability by council area, Scotland 2011

Source: Overview of Equality Results from the 2011 Census Release 2 (2014)


  • In 2011 the proportion of people providing unpaid care to family members or friends (9%) had changed little since 2001.
  • There was an increase in the number of hours of care which these unpaid caregivers carried out per week, with 44 per cent (219,000) of them providing 20 hours or more hours of care a week, compared with 37% (176,000) in 2001.

Source: 2011 Scotland Census


Scottish Health Survey
  • In 2012, 30% of men and 35% of women in Scotland reported a limiting long-term condition or disability.
  • Overall, 33% of adults in Scotland report a limiting long-term condition or disability.

Source: Scottish Government, Scottish Health Survey 2016


Useful Links

Disability Page

Demographics Page

Publications and Outputs

Publications and Outputs

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. Chapter 4 presents an analysis of disability in relation to these topics.

Analysis of Equality Results from the 2011 Census - Part 1 (2014)  - Analysis of Equality Results from the 2011 Census, including Ethnicity, Religion, and Disability.

Scottish Government Equality Outcomes: Disability Evidence Review (2013) - A review of the disability evidence, bringing together key facts and evidence gaps for the equalities groups in policy areas including: education, employment, poverty, housing, transport, hate crime, justice, public appointments, health, social care, sport, and culture

Scotland's Census website - Statistical Bulletins are available for releases 1 and 2 of the 2011 Census; including estimates of population, disability, ethnicity, identity, language and religion. A variety of related information is available to download.

A range of National statistics/Official publications are available on the National Records of Scotland website.



More up to date information is available, as well as data tables including time series information, from the  National Records of Scotland website.

Scotland's Census Results 2011 download data tables from the most recent census releases.

Future Developments

Future Developments

The first results from the 2011 Census have been published. More detailed data will become available in stages throughout 2014.

Select below for further information on:


Future publications

Beyond 2011 




National Records of Scotland Customer Services: Statisticscustomerservices@nrscotland.gov.uk