The life chances of young people in Scotland: evidence review

Evidence review commissioned by the First Minister's Independent Advisor on Poverty and Inequality.

Appendix A: Main Scottish data sources and measures


Official income and low income estimates are calculated using the Department for Work and Pensions' (DWP) Family Resources Survey (FRS) information. The FRS is an annual survey which provides snapshot income estimates. It collects detailed information about household income and has a large Scottish sample making it the best source of information on household income and poverty in Scotland. The most recently published data is for 2015/16. Low household income is used as a proxy for poverty. Poverty is measured at the household level. The threshold for being in poverty is set at 60% of median UK income. Relative poverty measures whether someone is living in poverty in the most recent year. Relative poverty after housing costs (AHC) is used here as this gives a better picture of disposable income. Further information on measuring poverty and income can be found here.

When looking at household income for 16-29 year olds, this group in particular will cover a wide range of people, for example those living at home with their parents (whose household income will include that of their parents) and those living alone (whose household income will just be what they earn/receive themselves). It will also include young mothers who we know have a particularly high poverty rate.

FRS is also used to measure the ratio of housing costs to income: the median ratio of housing costs to net (unequivalised) household income, one of the measures of housing affordability presented.


The Wealth and Assets Survey (WAS) is one of the main sources of information on how households in Great Britain are managing economically. It is a longitudinal survey that focusses broadly on household assets and debts, borrowing and saving, and plans for retirement. Therefore, it allows for a detailed analysis of how wealth is distributed across the population, as well as levels of change in wealth. Wealth is measured at household level.


The main source of data on people's housing circumstances in Scotland is the Scottish Household Survey (SHS). The SHS is a continuous cross-sectional survey based on a sample of the general population in private residences in Scotland. The Highest Income Householder, or his/her partner/spouse, is interviewed face-to-face about themselves and other members of the household. In addition, a randomly selected adult member of the same household aged 16 or over (who may, by chance, be the same person) is interviewed on other topics. Around 11,000 households are sampled. It covers a wide range of topics to allow links to be made between different policy areas, including household composition, accommodation; household employment; household income and finances; neighbourhood and communities. The most recently published data is for 2015.

The Census also collects data on household composition and tenure. The most recent census was 2011. National Records Scotland (NRS) has conducted analysis of living arrangements for people aged 20-34.

Labour market

The Labour Force Survey (LFS) measures numbers in, and rates of, employment, unemployment and inactivity, and estimates of weekly hours of work (including paid and unpaid hours) for the UK. Data is collected quarterly. The Annual Population Survey (APS) is similar to the Labour Force Survey (LFS). It is compiled by taking data from the 4 calendar quarters of the LFS and combining them with additional samples of interviews. Data is provided annually. The APS is used to measure the number of 16-19 year olds who are not in education, employment or training (NEET) at Scotland level. Data on employment in this report is taken from APS.

Employment levels measure the total number of people estimated to be in employment while employment rates allow changes in the labour market to be interpreted in a wider context by allowing for changes in the population.

The Employment Rate = the number of employed people divided by the whole population aged 16-64. The Youth Employment Rate is the number of employed people aged 16-24 (including full-time students) divided by the whole population aged 16-24. For European comparison of youth employment, the age range 15-24 is used.

The Unemployment Rate = the percentage of the active labour force that cannot find work. The denominator is the economically active population i.e. the number of those aged 16+ who are either employed or unemployed. The Youth Unemployment Rate is the percentage of the active labour force aged 16-24 (including full-time students) that cannot find work.

The Economic Inactivity Rate = the percentage of the total population aged 16-64 who are neither in employment nor unemployment.

Analysis of the Census provides more detailed information on the NEET group. The census also provides a large enough sample to look at labour market activity by ethnic group for all adults.

The Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE) is the recommended source of employees' pay levels. Data are published on an annual basis for the UK, and also broken down by industry, occupation, region, small area, gender and full- or part-time status. The survey is a sample survey of employee jobs, although information is collected from employers. It is based on a 1% random sample of jobs on the HMRC PAYE register. It covers all employee jobs in all industries and occupations across the UK.

Education - early years

Growing Up in Scotland (GUS) is a longitudinal research study tracking the lives of children and their families from the early years, through childhood and beyond. Three cohorts of children have been taking part in GUS: Birth Cohort 1 (5000 children born between June 2004 and May 2005) are just starting secondary school. GUS is a holistic study, concerned with all aspects of the child's life, including health, development, family circumstances, neighbourhood, education, friends and leisure activities. GUS provides data on children's development (including vocabulary ability and problem solving at age 3 and 5) by income group.

An analysis was undertaken of data from schools that use the Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring's (CEM) Performance Indicators in Primary Schools (PIPS) assessment. Over 1,100 schools in Scotland use the PIPS assessment to assess the progress children make in P1 in early maths, early literacy and non-cognitive development and behaviour. The analysis provides cognitive development scores at the start of and during Primary 1 by SIMD & gender.

Education - Broad General Education

Until recently, there has been no national requirement to undertake set assessment tasks throughout the Broad General Education phase (P1 to S3), or to produce assessment data in specific formats.

The Scottish Survey of Literacy and Numeracy (SSLN) provides data for the Broad General Education phase for 2016 and earlier (the Scottish Government has taken a decision to discontinue SSLN - the 2016 survey was the last SSLN). It is a nationally representative sample survey of pupils in P4, P7 and S2. SSLN assesses pupils' performance in numeracy and literacy in alternate years against the standards set by CfE. It samples around 12,000 pupils each year. The most recent data are from 2016 (literacy) and 2015 (numeracy) and. It provides data on reading, writing, listening, talking, and numeracy by SIMD and gender.

The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) is the major international study of pupil performance in which Scotland participates. PISA assesses the performance of 15-year-old pupils in maths, reading and science.

Education - Qualifications and post-school transitions

Information on National Qualifications is obtained from the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) (post review) and use the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF) as the basis for reporting attainment. The presentation of attainment data reflects the move to a more outcomes-based approach: leavers are classified by identifying the highest SCQF level at which they achieved one or more passes by the time they leave school. Attainment data are presented by gender, SIMD, ethnicity, and ASN. The most recent data are for 2014/15 school leavers.

The main sources of data on young adults' transitions are 'School Leaver Destinations' (a snapshot following up all school leavers in the year after they leave school) and the 'Annual Participation Measure' (that takes account of the activity of all 16-19 year olds over the course of a year).

The Leaver Destinations census, published by the Scottish Government, collects information on the primary destination (e.g. HE, employment etc.) of each young person identified as being a school leaver during the September after they leave school (initial destination) and March the following year (follow-up destination). It is the current National Indicator. School leaver destinations are presented by highest qualification, gender, ethnicity, SIMD, ASN, and looked after status. The most recent data is for 2014/15 school leavers.

Skills Development Scotland (SDS)'s Annual Participation Measure uses the shared data set held by SDS on their Customer Support System to take account of the activity of all 16-19 year olds over the course of a year. Central to the creation of the shared dataset is the sharing of information to allow partners to identify what young people are doing in 'real time' throughout their 16-19 journeys. The participation classification of each individual is calculated by combining the number of days spent in each status between 1st April and 31st March. The overall participation classification (participating, not participating and unconfirmed) is based on the classification which has the highest sum of days. Analysis of 'Participation rates' is available by age, gender, ethnicity, disability, local authority and SIMD. The most recent data is 2015.

SDS also produce statistics on Modern Apprenticeships. All data is entered and maintained by organisations contracted with SDS to deliver Modern Apprenticeships. Data is published on volume of: New Starts, Leavers, In Training, Achievements and Achievement Rates. Data is published by age, level, framework, gender, disability, ethnicity, care leaver status and ex-offender status. Data is published quarterly.

Further education

The Scottish Funding Council (SFC) publish data on further and higher education in Scotland. The 'College Statistics' report provides an overview of administrative data in the college sector, including full and part-time provision, analysis of subject areas and links to industry and equality groupings. The most recent data is 2015/16 (however data for 2014/15 is presented in this report for consistency with other post-school measures). 'Learning for All' contains information on widening access across the University and College sectors in Scotland, including course completion and withdrawal. The most recent data is 2014/15. 'College leaver destinations' provides information on the destinations of successful full-time college leavers in Scotland. The most recent data is 2014/15.

Higher education

The 'Higher Education Students and Qualifiers at Scottish Institutions' publication contains information on higher education provision and attainment in higher education institutions and colleges in Scotland. The most recent data is 2015/16. This includes information on student characteristics, access and equalities, and cross-border flows. The Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) also produces statistical information on behalf of the four UK higher education funding bodies. 'Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education in the United Kingdom' provides details of the destinations of UK and other European Union domiciled leavers from higher education who obtained qualifications in higher education providers in the UK, during that academic year. The data presented draws on the Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) survey and presents time series analysis relating back to 2011/12 when the revised DLHE survey was introduced. The most recent data is 2014/15.

Health and wellbeing - adolescents

The cross-national Health Behaviour in School-Aged Children (HBSC) survey gathers information on many aspects of young people's wellbeing in 45 countries and regions across Europe and North America. It has taken place every four years since 1990 amongst a nationally representative sample of 11-, 13- and 15-year-olds attending school. The most recent survey took place in 2014. The Scottish HBSC study is conducted by the Child and Adolescent Health Research Unit (CAHRU) at the University of St Andrews.

The Scottish Schools Adolescent Lifestyle and Substance Use Survey (SALSUS) is the primary source of data on substance using behaviour among young people in Scotland. The survey is conducted on a biennial basis and provides national level data on smoking, drinking, drug use and lifestyle issues amongst Scotland's secondary school children. The most recent survey was in 2015.

Health and wellbeing - young adults

The Scottish Health Survey (SHeS) is an annual sample survey that covers many aspects of the health of the Scottish population. Each survey in the series includes a set of core questions and measurements (height and weight and, if applicable, blood pressure, waist circumference, urine and saliva samples), plus modules of questions on specific health conditions that vary from year to year. Cardiovascular disease and related risk factors such as smoking, poor diet, lack of physical activity, obesity and alcohol misuse remain the principal focus of the survey. Mental health and wellbeing and general health and multiple conditions are also covered. The most recently published data was for 2014.

In contrast to the ongoing surveys among young adolescents, there is a dearth of surveys collecting data on risk behaviours among older adolescents and young adults. SHeS is the only survey that collects data on health and risk behaviours for age 16 to 24 years in Scotland, but these data are limited to tobacco and alcohol use only. The Scottish Crime and Justice Survey (SCJS) collects self-reported data on illicit drug use. Data on sexual risk behaviour are not routinely collected in this age group.


Email: Catriona Rooke,

Phone: 0300 244 4000 – Central Enquiry Unit

The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House
Regent Road

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