2 The Composition and Characteristics of Households and Adults in Scotland
Introduction and context
The Scottish Household Survey (SHS) collects information from the household respondent about all household members including children. This information is used principally for selecting the data of particular groups for further cross-cutting analysis or for use as background variables when analysing other topics.
The National Records of Scotland (NRS) uses the SHS to publish household estimates based on SHS data. It should be noted though that estimates of total numbers of households derived from the SHS 2012, using the household grossing weight, are the same as the 2011 household estimates from NRS. Estimates for particular types of household, as described in this chapter, are likely to differ from NRS due to differences in weighting.
The characteristics of adults and the Highest Income Householder (HIH) are used in this report as variables to examine SHS questions in the chapters that follow. The age and number of people in the household are combined in 'household type', a variable which is used to examine the relationship of household composition with a number of different topics throughout this report.
To set the scene for the subsequent analysis, this chapter briefly presents information on selected characteristics of all household members and of adults. It examines household types and considers the relationship between household type and degree of rurality.
- Just under half (48%) of adults are married and living with a spouse, while just over a third (35%) have never been married or in a civil partnership.
- The majority of adults (96.3%) are of white ethnic origin, with Scottish being the predominant ethnic group (78.8%). Adults of Asian ethnic origin represent the biggest minority ethnic group (2.5%).
- Around 5% of young adults aged 16 to 24 are married, and by the time adults reach the age of 35 to 44 the majority are married and living with their spouse or in a same sex civil partnership (56%).
- Around a third (34%) of households in Scotland contains only one person, made up of single adults (19%) and single pensioners (15%). Smaller households without children also account for one-third of households.
- Just under one-quarter of households in large urban areas are single adult households (24%) whilst a quarter (25%) of households in remote rural areas in Scotland are older smaller households (households with no children and up to 2 adults of which one can be of pensionable age).
All Household Members
The gender and age of all household members, including children, are presented in Table 2.1. There are more female (52%) than male (48%) household members, similar to previous years. Just under a fifth (17%) of household members are aged under 16, while just under a quarter (23%) are 60 or over.
Column percentages, 2012 data
All household members
|0 to 15||17|
|16 to 24||12|
|25 to 34||13|
|35 to 44||13|
|45 to 59||21|
|60 to 74||16|
Adults in private households
Table 2.2 presents the characteristics of adults, based on those selected to take part in the 'random adult' interview. As with all household members, 52% of adults are female and 48% are male. Those aged 16-24 represent 14% of adults. Those aged 45 to 59 make up a quarter (25%) of all adults, while those 75 or over represent just under one-tenth (9%) of adults These figures are comparable to those from 2011.
Column percentages, 2012 data
|16 to 24||14|
|25 to 34||16|
|35 to 44||16|
|45 to 59||25|
|60 to 74||20|
|Never married and never registered a same-sex civil partnership||35|
|In a registered same-sex civil partnership||0|
|Separated, but still legally married||2|
|Separated, but still legally in a same-sex civil partnership||0|
|Formerly in a same-sex civil partnership which is now legally dissolved||-|
|Surviving partner from a same-sex civil partnership||-|
|Any other White background||3.7|
|Mixed or multiple ethnic groups||0.1|
|Asian, Asian Scottish or Asian British||2.5|
|Pakistani, Pakistani Scottish or Pakistani British||1.0|
|Indian, Indian Scottish or Indian British||0.8|
|Bangladeshi, Bangladeshi Scottish or Bangladeshi British||0.1|
|Chinese, Chinese Scottish or Chinese British||0.4|
|Any other Asian, Asian Scottish or Asian British||0.3|
|African, Caribbean or Black||0.6|
|African, African Scottish or African British||0.3|
|Caribbean, Caribbean Scottish or Caribbean British||0.1|
|Black, Black Scottish or Black British||0.1|
|Any other Black background||0.2|
|Any other background||0.5|
|Church of Scotland||29.7|
|Another religion, please write in||0.6|
Just under half (48%) of adults are married and living with a spouse, and less than 1% are living in a same sex civil partnership. The majority of adults (96.3%) are of white ethnic origin with Scottish being the predominant ethnic group (78.8%). The next biggest group is 'other British' (13.1%), while 3.7% of adults are non-white. Adults of Asian ethnic origin represent the biggest non-white group (2.5%).
Figure 2.1 examines the relationships between current marital status and adults of different ages. Of those adults aged 16-24, the majority (95%) have never been married or been in a same sex civil partnership. From the ages of 35 to 74, marriage is the predominant current status (56% of adults aged 35 to 44 are married or in a civil partnership). Those aged 75 or over are more often 'widowed' or a bereaved civil partner (44%) although the same proportion are still married.
2012 data, Adults (base minimum: 780)
The data underlying Figure 2.1 are presented in Table 2.3 in more detail. As well as showing the percentages of each age group who are married, divorced etc, it also shows the percentage of each marital status category who are aged 16-24, 25-34 and so on. Like marriage, being divorced or separated is more common than average between the ages of 35-74, and also like marriage, this peaks between the ages of 45-59 (48%).
Row and column percentages, 2012 data
|Adults|| Single, never married / civil partner- |
| Married / civil partner- |
|Divorced / Separated||Widowed / Bereaved civil partner||All (column)||Total (row)||Row base|
|16 to 24||Row||95||5||0||-||100||780|
|25 to 34||Row||62||36||3||0||100||1,380|
|35 to 44||Row||32||56||11||1||100||1,550|
|45 to 59||Row||16||62||19||3||100||2,460|
|60 to 74||Row||8||66||12||14||100||2,440|
The question on sexual orientation was introduced to the SHS in 2011 as one of the Scottish Government's "core" questions. Developed by the Office for National Statistics, the question was designed to provide accurate statistics to underpin the equality monitoring responsibilities of public sector organisations and to assess the disadvantage or relative discrimination experience by the lesbian, gay and bisexual population.
Table 2.4 shows that 98% of adults identified themselves as heterosexual or straight. The 'other' option (0.1%) addresses the fact that not all people will fall in the three main categories. It is interesting to note that 0.8% of adults stated they refused or preferred not to answer the question, a slight increase from 0.4% in 2011. Comparisons by gender show there was a slightly larger proportion of men stating they were gay or lesbian at 0.9% compared to women at 0.5%.
Column percentages, 2012 data
|Heterosexual / Straight||97.7||98.3||98.0|
|Gay / Lesbian||0.9||0.5||0.7|
|Refused/Prefer not to say||0.9||0.7||0.8|
Household type is derived from the details collected from the household respondent about all household members, using a combination of age and number of people in the household. Combining the data in this way provides, in effect, an indicator of the life stage and family circumstance of households.
The structure of households, as represented by household type, is illustrated in Figure 2.2 and full definitions are included in the Glossary (Annex 2). Just over a third of households in Scotland contain only one adult living alone, split as 19% in single adult households and 15% in single pensioner households. Small families without children also account for one-third of households (small adult, older smaller), while almost a quarter (23%) are families with children aged under 16 (single parent, small family, large family).
2012 data, Households (base: 10,640)
Table 2.5 shows the extent to which household type varies according to degree of rurality. In general the differences between different types of area are relatively small. Exceptions are higher than average levels of single adults in large urban areas (24%) and of older smaller households in remote rural areas (25%).
Column percentages, 2012 data
|Households||Large urban areas||Other urban areas||Accessible small towns||Remote small towns||Accessible rural||Remote rural||Scotland|
Additional tables providing further information on the composition and characteristics of households are available on the SHS website.
Email: Nic Krzyzanowski