Scottish Government Equality Outcomes: Age Evidence Review

This evidence review was prepared to support the production of the Scottish Government's Equality Outcomes, with regard to age.

1 Introduction

Purpose of this document

1.1 This paper is one of a series written to inform the development of equality outcomes for the Scottish Government. Guidance from the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) states that a range of relevant evidence relating to equality groups and communities should be used to help set equality outcomes that are likely to make the biggest difference in tackling inequalities.

1.2 The EHRC suggests the following criteria for selecting equality outcomes:

  • Scale - how many people are affected by the issue and how does the issue impact on their life chances?
  • Severity - does the issue present a risk to equality of opportunity for particular protected groups? Is it a significant barrier to opportunity or freedom?
  • Concern - do equality groups and communities see it as a significant issue?
  • Impact - is the problem persistent or getting worse? What is the potential for improving life chances? Is the problem sensitive to public intervention?
  • Remit - are you able to address the issue given your remit?

1.3 This series of papers provides evidence for some of the questions listed above - in particular, on the scale and severity of issues facing equality groups. It is intended that this evidence will feed into a process of engagement with equality groups and communities, to help develop the most relevant equality outcomes.

1.4 These papers seek to identify key facts and evidence gaps for people with protected characteristics in policy areas including: education, employment, poverty, housing, transport, hate crime, justice, public appointments, health, social care, sport, and culture.

Key facts

1.5 Education: Current participation rates in further and higher education are highest for under 21-years-olds, and fall with age. Those in the 25-34 age group have the highest rate of degree qualifications and the lowest level of no qualifications, whilst those aged 55 and over are most likely to have no qualifications.

1.6 Employment: The employment rate for people aged 16-24 fell between 2007-2011, but increased by 1% last year. People aged 16-24 also have a high rate of part-time work, low-paid work and underemployment. The employment rate for the 55-59/64 age group rose more rapidly between 1999 and 2006 than for the other age groups.

1.7 Poverty: Absolute and relative poverty[i] rates for children and pensioners have fallen sharply since 1998/99. Persistent poverty rates for working age adults are lower than for children and pensioners; however, while poverty among working-age adults living with dependent children has fallen, there has been a steady rise in poverty among working-age adults without dependent children, both in and out of work. Views are mixed on the likely impacts of welfare reform in the context of high unemployment.

1.8 Housing: Young people are over-represented among the homeless, but youth homelessness in Scotland decreased sharply last year. Pensioners are the most likely group to own their homes outright, and home ownership among younger people is declining rapidly. Older people tend to be housed in the Owner Occupied or Social Rented sectors, and few pensioners live in private rented accommodation. Specialist housing for the elderly is currently under pressure, and as the population aged 65+ is projected to rise sharply, there will be further pressure on services for older people.

1.9 Transport: Those aged 80 and over travel significantly less than other age groups. Train use and walking for transport decrease with age, whilst younger and older people are more likely to use the bus. Car use rises sharply with age until around 60, and as people get older they are more likely to drive to work. Walking and cycling account for half of all journeys to school.

1.10 Victims of crime: The most common age group for victims of racist incidents is 26-35 for males, and 36-50 for females. Around 46 % of perpetrators of racist incidents in 2010-11 were aged 20 or under, with 23 % of perpetrators under the age of 16. The pattern is different for those charged with religiously aggravated crime, with 24% of those aged 20 or under, with only 3.5% aged under 16.

1.11 Justice: Young people are more heavily represented than older people in crime (as victims and as perpetrators), legal aid (both civil and criminal), the prison population, and in domestic abuse (both as victims and perpetrators). More older people die in fires than younger people.

1.12 Public appointments: The most common age range for applicants is 51­60 with 40%, which is over-represented relative to its 13% share of the population.

1.13 Health: Self-assessed health is associated with age, with older groups significantly less likely to report being in good or very good health than younger age groups. Dental problems, heart disease and obesity generally increase with age, whilst consumption of sufficient fruit and vegetables is least likely amongst the young. Hazardous or harmful drinking is greatest among the youngest age groups, and declines with age. Older in-patients are generally more positive about their experiences than younger patients.

1.14 Social care: The population of older residents in care homes has fallen, whilst the number of older people cared for in their own homes has risen. Older people are more likely than younger people to receive the help they need in daily living. Younger mothers make greater use of informal childcare than older parents, and people in their 50s are the age group that most commonly provide any informal care.

1.15 Sport: Participation in sport is highest among younger people, and declines with age. Walking is the commonest form of physical activity undertaken across all age groups. The most common barrier to participation by older people is ill-health, whilst children report difficulties accessing local playgrounds and reduced amounts of physical education in schools.

1.16 Culture: Participation in and engagement with culture decline with age, but attendance at cultural events varies with the type of event. Cost is a barrier affecting children and older people, whilst young adults are constrained by having insufficient free time.

Gaps in the data

1.17 The evidence reviewed to date for transport does not address age-specific accessibility needs on public transport, for example spaces for pushchairs and seating for older passengers.

1.18 Whilst there has been a substantial amount of evaluation related to promoting children's physical activity, it is reported that little of this has been conducted in the UK or amongst socially excluded children.

1.19 The following gaps are reported by Macpherson and Bond (2009)[1]:

1.20 Relatively little research has been carried out to explore the differences in educational participation by people of different ages. Research into the motivations of the increasing numbers of older learners, and how these environments may or may not meet their needs, would provide useful additional information.

1.21 There may be important links between long-term illness/disability and ageing, that could be more explicitly considered through research on employment. In particular, aspects that might benefit from more detailed analysis include the relationships between age, social class, education and disability, and how their interaction impacts upon a person's labour market participation. In relation to earnings, there is scope to further analyse pay gaps in order to understand the interplay between age, earnings and gender.

1.22 There is little information about the distribution of incomes within households. It is expected that this will be investigated in the Poverty and Social Exclusion Survey, with data becoming available in on

1.23 We lack an accurate picture of the people who use sheltered housing, as there is no current regular collection of statistics on specialist housing residents.


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