Public attitudes to young people in Scotland

Findings from a survey of public attitudes to young people.

Differences between population groups

The following overall trends emerged in how different sub groups viewed young people:

Relationship with young people

  • People who said they knew a young person held consistently more positive attitudes of young people, although no pattern was found by what the respondents relationship to the young people they know was.

Social class, SIMD and household income

  • Respondents from the higher social classes ( ABC1) held more positive attitudes to young people than those from the C2DE group.
  • Attitudes were most positive in the least deprived SIMD areas on all questions.
  • For most questions, attitudes improved as area deprivation decreased but this wasn't a consistent relationship for all questions.
  • Generally, attitudes were more positive among the highest income households, although variation by this variable wasn't always statistically significant and the relationship wasn't always consistent.


  • Respondents aged 18 to 24 held the most positive attitudes about young people for all questions except the responsibility question, where age was not a statistically significant factor.
  • However, the relationship between age and attitudes is not straightforward, and the 25 to 49 age group was the most negative about young people for most questions.
  • For some questions, attitudes among the oldest (65 plus) age group were as positive as those among the youngest age group.
  • Related to age, full time students consistently had most positive attitudes about young people for all questions except the responsibility one.


  • Women were generally more positive about young people, although the difference was generally not large and not present for all questions.

Voting behaviour

  • Having voted Remain in the EU referendum was one of the strongest predictors of positive attitudes to young people, with Leave voters consistently holding substantially more negative attitudes.

No pattern was found by Scottish region; area type (urban-rural); household size; and marital status. The Black and Ethnic Minority population is too small to report reliably.

Patterns for the question about walking past a group of young people were slightly different:

  • The likelihood of feeling confident consistently increased with age, with the oldest age group the most likely to say that it wouldn't bother them.
  • There was also a consistent relationship with rurality, with those in remote and very remote rural most likely to say that the group would not bother them.
  • Those saying it would not bother them were also more likely to be female; to know a young person; to be retired; and to have higher household incomes.
  • Interestingly, no difference was found between SIMD quintiles.

There was less variation between population subgroups in the questions about media portrayals of young people. Respondents aged 18-24; in occupational group ABC1; students; and those who know a young person were most likely to describe the portrayal as negative.

A detailed analysis of findings by sub groups is provided in Annex A.


Back to top