This report presents an analysis of equality data across the indicators from the Active Scotland Outcomes Framework. It provides a baseline from which progress can be monitored and highlights where evidence gaps exist.
The report encompasses the characteristics protected under legislation as well as socio-economic status (SES), in recognition of the impact of broader inequalities in Scotland, particularly for those living in the most deprived areas.
The Active Scotland Outcomes Framework, developed collectively with partners through the National Strategic Group for Sport and Physical Activity (NSG) and published in 2014, describes Scotland's ambitions for sport and physical activity over the next ten years. It sets out a vision and six outcomes with 19 associated indicators to enable high level assessment of progress and a commitment to equality. The outcomes are:
- We encourage and enable the inactive to be more active
- We encourage and enable the active to stay active throughout life
- We develop physical confidence and competence from the earliest age
- We improve our active infrastructure - people and places
- We support wellbeing and resilience in communities through PA & sport
- We improve opportunities to participate, progress and achieve in sport
The equality evidence base for physical activity is variable. Much more data is available in places, such as for age, gender and socioeconomic status. There is, however, a particular lack of data on ethnicity, sexual orientation, pregnancy/maternity and religion. Also, although there is data on disability, at present it is combined across different types of disabilities which obscures a more nuanced understanding.
Many of the protected characteristics interact with each other. A person may have several protected characteristics and some characteristics make other ones more likely, for example being disabled or from an ethnic minority (non-white) background is associated with higher likelihood of relative poverty. This has not been explored in any depth in this review and analysis on interactions in general and the implications for equality in physical activity is lacking. This is an area that would benefit greatly from further research.
As with social outcomes across Scotland and globally, the evidence gathered points to inequality of opportunities and outcomes for all groups with protected characteristics across all the Active Scotland outcomes. This is not surprising in the sense that these characteristics are protected because we know that peoples' outcomes are worse because of them. However, enhancing our evidence base will provide support to tackling these issues.
Key messages by outcome and by characteristic are summarised in Figures A and B below. Some overall main messages that have emerged from this work are:
- Key at risk groups across all the outcomes include the elderly, those with limiting conditions or disabilities, those with lower SES (particularly re sports participation and environmental factors), teenage girls and women of Asian origin.
- The inequality by deprivation in sports participation in children is widening. This is concerning, particularly with respect to encouraging positive physical activity behaviours that can be carried through into adulthood where sports and exercise are an important contribution to total physical activity.
- The inequality by gender in physical activity has narrowed substantially between teenage boys and girls since 2008. This has been largely driven by girls becoming more active.
- School activity becomes increasingly important as children get older. The inequality difference between young teenagers' activity levels and those of 8-10 year olds has been decreasing since 2008, but only when school activity is included.
- Retirement and primary to secondary school transitions are important. Evidence highlights retirement as a key moment at which to influence physical activity behaviours in old age. For children, the transition from primary to secondary education, particularly in girls is a key point at which to try to retain levels of physical activity.
- Access to services (including leisure services) has been identified by the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) as one of seven significant inequalities in Scotland. Satisfaction is related to levels of use of leisure services, with increasing satisfaction as use goes up. The evidence points to particular issues with use and satisfaction amongst disabled people, those aged over 60 years, ethnic minorities, people identifying with non-Christian religions, LGBT groups and people on low incomes suggesting progress is needed around facilities providing the right opportunities for diverse communities.
- Walking is an important leveller of inequalities but differences still exist. Although some inequalities are evident in both recreational walking and active travel to school, most notably for those with disabilities, when walking participation is not included in sports and exercise participation figures, inequalities between groups are generally much wider.
The report provides a baseline from which progress can be monitored and points to where further evidence gathering is required. It also complements parallel research commissioned by sportscotland and the Equalities and Human Rights Council (EHRC) on equality and sport. Work to address inequality is required on multiple fronts as the Scottish Government and its partners develop policies and programmes in pursuit of achieving the Active Scotland outcomes and ensuring that all parts of the population are benefitting from public investment in physical activity and sport.
Figure A: Key Equality Messages by Active Scotland Outcome
| We encourage and enable the inactive to be more active |
- The groups most at risk of being physically inactive are: those with a disability and/or long-standing poor health; older age groups; women, teenage girls and ethnic minorities (particularly of South Asian origin).
- Walking is an important element and acts as a leveller to reduce inequalities. For most characteristics, the when walking participation is not included in sport and exercise participation figures, inequalities between groups are much wider.
| We encourage and enable the active to stay active throughout life |
- Transitions are important. For example, the transition to secondary school is associated with a significant drop in physical activity levels for girls. Retirement is a critical transition presenting an opportunity to influence physical activity behaviours in old age.
- People from poorer socio-economic backgrounds are just as likely to be active as others during childhood, but become significantly less active as adults.
- Once people are frequently active, inequalities almost entirely disappear - among sport and exercise participants, frequency of participation does not vary by any characteristic apart from ethnicity (people of Asian origin participate less).
| We develop physical confidence and competence from the earliest age |
- The tendency towards lower physical activity levels among girls/women, and ethnic minority groups (but not lower socio-economic groups) is present even from childhood.
- LGBT groups, disabled people and women report negative school PE experiences, which can impact on their participation throughout life.
| We improve our active infrastructure - people and places |
- The EHRC highlighted access to leisure services as an equality issue for Scotland. People on low incomes, those with a disability, ethnic minorities, those aged 60+ and those identifying with non-Christian religions are less likely to use leisure facilities.
- People living in deprived areas are less likely to live near, use, or be satisfied with the quality of their local greenspace.
- There is unequal representation in the active volunteering workforce across most of the protected characteristics, particularly for those on lower incomes.
| We support wellbeing and resilience in communities through physical activity and sport |
- The purpose of this outcome is to promote community cohesion through sport and physical activity. Analysis by characteristic in the same way as the other outcomes is therefore not appropriate, however, we know that perceptions of community safety do matter for overall perceptions of community and for levels of physical activity.
- Women (in particular those aged 60+), those with disabilities, and those with poor socio-economic circumstances are least likely to feel safe walking alone in their local area after dark.
| We improve opportunities to progress and achieve in sport |
- Older people, teenagers (particularly girls) , those with disabilities, those from poorer socio-economic backgrounds and Asian minorities and are less likely to participate in sport..
- LGBT groups report experiencing discrimination and intimidation when participating in sport, as well as barriers related to changing facilities and access to competition.
- Women are under-represented as coaches in high performance sports. Elite sportswomen report inequality in pay, support and media representation.
Figure B: Key Equality Messages by Protected Characteristic
| AGE |
- Young people are most physically active aged 5-10 and become less so as they get older. The most significant drop in physical activity levels occurs among teenage girls following transition to secondary education.
- However the gap with teenage boys has narrowed, mainly because girls are doing more.
- There are high levels of inactivity among older age groups, however, exercise participation among those aged 65+ is increasing year on year and older adults (up to age 74) are almost as likely as young people to walk for recreation.
| DISABILITY |
- Disabilities are currently grouped as one in surveys masking any differences for different types of disability
- Those with a disability are significantly more likely to be inactive both as young people and as adults, and to participate significantly less in sport.
- Young people with a disability are less likely to experience active play each day, far less likely to travel actively to school and they take part in a narrower range of PE activities and less extra-curricular sport.
- People with a disability are less likely to use or be satisfied with leisure facilities. There are particular issues around access to facilities.
| ETHNICITY |
- Minority ethnic groups make up 4% of Scotland's population. Their numbers are small in surveys, making robust and useful analysis challenging.
- People of South Asian (particularly Pakistani) origin, are the least likely ethnic group to achieve recommended physical activity levels and are also the least likely to participate in sport.
- There is particular concern with regard to activity level of Pakistani women who are more likely to be inactive than Pakistani men.
| GENDER |
- Significantly more men meet activity recommendations than women and significantly fewer are inactive.
- Walking is a leveller - there is little difference by gender in walking for recreation.
- Twice as many men as women are sports/exercise volunteers.
- Gender differences in population sport are reflected in elite sport.
| SEXUAL ORIENTATION AND TRANSGENDER |
- LGB respondents are not significantly different from heterosexuals in activity levels, however, adults who identified as having an 'other' sexual orientation are significantly less likely to meet activity recommendations than the national average.
- There are particular issues around homophobia and transphobia in sport resulting in either discrimination or intimidation, or in a reluctance on the part of LGBT participants to be open about their status
| RELIGION |
- Those identifying with non-Christian religions make up 3% of Scotland's population. As with ethnicity above, robust analysis is challenging with the available data.
- Muslims were significantly less likely to meet activity recommendations than the average.
- There is considerable overlap between groups of concern by ethnicity and religion in that 90% of those of Pakistani origin identify with Islam as their religion
| SOCIO-ECONOMIC STATUS |
- Poverty/low income, education and employment are cross-cutting issues that interact with other forms of inequality.
- People from poorer socio-economic backgrounds are as likely as others to be active during childhood (although significantly less likely to participate in sports and this inequality gap is widening) , but become significantly less likely than others to be active or participate in sport as adults.
- Both men and women from poorer socio-economic backgrounds are also less likely to walk recreationally, less likely to volunteer, and less likely to think that their neighbourhood is safe for children's play or walking after dark.
| Interactions between characteristics (Intersectionality) |
- The key evidence has been presented here by each protected characteristic in turn, however, we know that many individuals will possess more than one of the protected characteristics and there can be complex and reinforcing interactions between them.