Results of 2011Scottish Household Survey

Scotland’s Chief Statistician has today published the Scottish Household Survey (SHS) 2011 Annual Report (Scotland’s People).

The SHS is a survey of households across the whole of Scotland. It is done to provide reliable and up-to-date information on the nature, attitudes and behaviour of Scottish households and individuals on a range of issues, nationally and sub-nationally.

It covers a wide range of key topics including household composition; housing; neighbourhoods and communities; economic activity; finance and childcare; education; transport; internet and broadband; health and caring; local services; volunteering; culture and sport.

Some of the main results from the survey, set out in more detail in the main report, are:

Household composition

  • Just under half (49%) of adults are married and living with a spouse, while just over a third (34%) have never been married or are in a civil partnership.
  • The majority of adults (96.8%) are of white ethnic origin, with Scottish being the predominant ethnic group (80.3%).  Adults of Asian ethnic origin represent the biggest minority ethnic group (2.0%).
  • 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 (58%).
  • A third (33%) of households in Scotland contain only one person – single adults (18%) and single pensioners (15&).  Small families without children also account for 33% of households.
  • 22% of households in large urban areas are single adult households .


  • Owner occupation is the predominant tenure for most household types (64%), the notable exception being for single parent households (47% are in social rented housing) and, to a somewhat lesser extent, single adult households (35% in the social rented sector).
  • The private rented sector has shown small but consistent signs of growth from 5% in 1999 to 11% in 2011, associated with a decline in the social rented sector (23% for the past five years).
  • The 15% most deprived areas in Scotland are characterised by high concentrations of social housing, with over half (56%) of households in the social rented sector; compared to 17% in the rest of Scotland.
  • Almost half (49%) of those who have lived at their current address for less than one year are from the private rented sector. Owner occupied households show more long-term stability in staying at a single address.

Neighbourhoods and communities

  • More than half (55.9%) of adults rate their neighbourhood as a very good place to live, continuing a rising trend seen over recent years, a 0.5% increase compared with 55.4% in 2010.
  • Adults living in rural areas of Scotland are more likely to say their neighbourhood is ‘very good’ (75% of those living in remote rural areas) whilst, more strikingly, the proportion rating their neighbourhood as very good increases as levels of deprivation decline.
  • 75% of adults say they like the sense of community in their neighbourhood, whilst only 22% say they have good public transport in their neighbourhood. Over a quarter (27%) of adults particularly dislike the unpleasant environment they live in.
  • Overall prevalence of different types of anti-social behaviour is relatively low, though the most commonly perceived problems are animal nuisance such as noise or dog fouling (26% saying this is very or fairly common in their area) and rubbish or litter lying around (25 %). Perception of vandalism such as graffiti or damage to property (11%) continues to decrease year on year.
  • 58% of adults say they have not experienced any kind of neighbourhood problems, though this decreases to 45% for those living in the 15% most deprived areas of Scotland.
  • More than 75% of adults say they feel very or fairly safe when walking alone in their neighbourhood after dark, with males (90%) more likely to feel safe than females (67%).


  • Throughout 2011, the percentage of people who feel positively about their household finances has decreased, from 48% at the end of 2010 to 44% at the end of 2011. Overall, just under half (47%) of all adults in 2011 say they manage quite well or very well.
  • Less than three-in-ten (28%) of single parent households say they are not managing well financially.  Those households in social and private rented sectors are less likely to say they are managing well (25% and 36% respectively) as compared to those who live in owner occupied accommodation (58%).
  • Almost three-in-ten households (27%) did not have any savings or investments in 2011, with just over one-in-ten households (12%) having less than £1,000 savings.
  • A third (33%) of single parent households and around a half (52% of single adults) have savings and investments. Over half (56%) of households in the social rented sector have no savings.

Education and Young People

  • One-fifth (20%) of adults have no qualifications, with relatively little difference between males and females, though those with no qualifications are more likely to have lower incomes.
  • Levels of satisfaction of schooling amongst parents are high, with over nine in ten (92%) of all parents with school aged children satisfied with the education provided by their child’s school.
  • Satisfaction parents have with schooling decreases slightly as the age of the school child increases, decreasing from 95%  for those aged 4 to 6 down to 89% for those aged 13 and above.
  • Typically around 40% of households have access to some form of play areas within their neighbourhood. 50% have access to a park, and 46% have access to either a playground or field or other open space.
  • Generally, those households within rural areas are more likely to say children would be very safe or fairly safe when walking or cycling to play areas on their own, ranging from around 60% for most play areas in urban areas to around 80% in rural areas.
  • Most householders would feel comfortable with children aged around 9 or 10 years old playing without supervision in outside play areas. This increases with 11 years old playing within a natural environment or wooded area.
  • 76% of young people aged 8 to 21 take part in some of activities regularly, with the majority of young people (54%) taking part in sports or sporting activity whether played competitively or not.

Transport and travel

  • 70% of households have a car available for private use, with those living in rural areas more likely to own at least one car (86% in remote rural areas compared to 61% in large urban areas).
  • Car availability is strongly associated with income: in those households with a net annual household income of over £25,000 over 90% households have access to at least one car, whilst at least 50% of households with an income of £15,000 or below do not have access to a car at all.
  • There has been a period of relative stability in the number of cars households have access to, though 2011 estimates suggest that some two car households were downsizing to just one car (22% in 2010 down to 21% in 2011).
  • Just over two thirds (67%) of adults hold a full driving licence, with a higher proportion of males (76%) compared to females (60%)


  • 73% of Scottish households report having home Internet access in 2011, which continues a long established year-on-year increase. Home Internet access increases with net annual household income, from around half of households for those with income less than £15,000 up to 98% of those with an income greater than £40,000.
  • Nearly all of the households in Scotland who access the Internet at home have a broadband connection (97%). Broadband uptake rates, where households have an internet connection, show very little difference by deprivation and by rurality.
  • 24% of adults do not use the Internet at all, an improvement on the 27 % reported in 2009/2010. There is a clear relationship between age and use of the Internet, with lower levels of use among older respondents. Similarly, women are more likely than men to be non-users (26% and 21% respectively) though the main gender difference is among those aged 60 or older, with very little difference in the proportion of younger males and females who do not use the Internet.
  • The ways in which people access the internet are becoming increasingly diverse and complex, in particular the proportion of those accessing the internet on the move, for example on a mobile phone, doubling from 7% in 2009/2010 to 14% in 2011.
  • The SHS asked adults who make no personal use of the Internet the reasons why they did not. Among the most common responses related to people’s preferences or requirements were, 30% saying they did not like using the Internet/computers, 26% saying they did not need to use the Internet/computers and 23% saying they did not know how to use a computer.

Health and caring

  • Less than one quarter (23%) of adults smoked in 2011 which continues a general downwards trend in the proportion of adults who smoke. The 2011 proportion is a 7.4% reduction on 1999.
  • Typically, more men than women smoke (25% and 22% respectively). Younger men more commonly smoke than younger women, with the gap widest (5%) between the ages of 25 and 44 years.
  • Adults in the 15% most deprived areas of Scotland are considerably more likely than those in the rest of Scotland to say that they are current smokers (40% and 21% respectively).
  • A third of households in Scotland (34%) contain at least one person with a long-standing illness, health problem or disability. Owner occupier households (30%) and those who rent from the private sector (21%) are less likely to contain someone with long-standing health problems or disabilities than those living in the social rented sector (53%) or other tenure type.
  • While 13% of all households contain at least one person who requires regular help or care, around 25% single pensioners (23%) and 22% older smaller households have care needs.
  • Just 10% occupiers and 7% private renters (7%) have someone in the household with care needs, compared with 25% social renters.
  • 75% of adults say their own health is either ‘very good’ or ‘good’, compared to 6% of those saying it is ‘bad’ or ‘very bad’.
  • People living in the 15 per cent most deprived of areas in Scotland  are more likely to say their health is poor compared with those living elsewhere (11 per cent, compared with 5 per cent).

Local services

  • In 2011, 66% of adults were satisfied with three public services: local health services, schools and public transport. The corresponding figure in 2007 (the first year this data was collected) was 57%.
  • Just over 22% of adults agreed that they can influence decisions affecting their local area and 365 said they would like to be more involved in the decisions their council makes.
  • Generally, older adults are more likely than younger adults to say they are satisfied with local government performance and less likely to want to be more involved in making decisions. Adults in higher income households are more likely to want to be involved in decisions that affect the local area than those from lower income households.
  • Adults who live in rural areas are less likely to say local services would be convenient to access than those in small towns and urban areas. This was particularly the case for public transport, dentists and chemists/pharmacists.
  • Almost 89% households have recycled some paper (including newspaper, magazines and cardboard), glass jars and bottles, metal cans or plastic bottles in the past month, an increase of 3% compared to 2010.
  • Recycling of these items is clearly related to the type of property in which households live, reflecting the differing availability of recycling services to residents in different types of property. For example, 94% of households living in a house or bungalow recycle one or more of these items compared with up to 80% for those living in flats. Within flats, fewer of those living on the higher floors recycle items: 49% of households living in a flat with the lowest floor level being the fifth floor or higher.
  • Over half of adults (56%) in Scotland have access to a useable greenspace (apart from their own garden) that they could walk to within five minutes (13% would have to walk more than 10 minutes).  Adults who live less than a five minute walk from useable greenspace are four times more likely to use it every day or several times a week than those who live more than a ten minute walk from useable greenspace (44% versus 11%). Those who use their local greenspace every day or several times a week are considerably more likely to say that their health is good or very good than those who never use their local greenspace (81% versus 63%).
  • Around 15% of adults have either not used council run parks and open spaces in the past year or have never used them. 70% of adults are satisfied with council run parks and open spaces, with 6% being dissatisfied.


  • Levels of volunteering have remained relatively stable over the last five years, with around 30% people providing unpaid help to organisations or groups.
  • Levels of volunteering vary according to gender across all age groups. Overall, a slightly higher percentage of women (33%) than men (27%) volunteered in the last twelve months.
  • Levels of volunteering vary by economic status, with a lower proportion of people from lower income households volunteering in the last twelve months compared with higher income groups.
  • The type of organisations most commonly volunteered for are schools (23%), followed by other youth/children’s organisations (19%), and health, disability and social welfare organisations (19%).
  • Younger adults are more likely to volunteer with children/young people, and help with sporting activities, whilst older adults are more likely to volunteer with the elderly and for religious organisations.
  • 57% of volunteers in Scotland volunteered for less than six hours in the previous four weeks.
  • The most common reasons that people gave for stopping volunteering were due to changes in their circumstances, such as no longer having time (27%), changing job (12%), moving house (11%) or due to illness (10%).

Culture and sport

  • Almost nine-in-ten (87%) of adults have engaged in culture in 2011, either through attending or visiting a cultural event or place or participating in a cultural activity.
  • Just over three-quarters (76%) have attended a cultural event or place in the last 12 months, the most popular form of cultural attendance is watching films at a cinema (54% of adults) and around a third (31%) attending live music events.
  • Attendance is higher amongst women than men at some but not all types of cultural place or event. The overall levels of cultural attendance falls with increasing age of respondent. This is partly due to the popularity of cinema attendance amongst younger age groups.
  • 73% of adults participated in some form of cultural activity in 2011. By far the most popular form of cultural participation is reading for pleasure (63%). Participation in most cultural activities is higher amongst women (79%t) than men (67%).
  • Just over half of adults (52%) are satisfied with council run libraries, and slightly less for theatres or concert halls (45%) and museums and galleries (44%).  Around 40% adults had no opinion on each of these services.  Around 90% adults who have used these services in the past year are very or fairly satisfied with them
  • 75% of adults participated in sport (including recreational walking) in the last four weeks. When walking was excluded, just over half of adults (54%) had undertaken at least one of the remaining sports activities in the last four weeks.
  • The percentage of women who had participated in sport in the last four weeks was lower than the corresponding figure for men (72% versus 78%). Among different age groups, participation was highest among those aged 16 to 44 (around 84%), thereafter, participation decreased steadily until the age of 75, after which there was a sharp reduction with only 42% of those aged 75 and over engaging in sport in the past four weeks.
  • By far the most prevalent activity was walking for 30 minutes (for recreational purposes) with over half of adults (57%) having done this compared with less than 20% undertaking any other individual activity, with swimming the next biggest at 18%.

Note: The Scottish Household Survey (SHS) 2011 Annual Report (Scotland’s People) is a web-only publication and can be found on the Scottish Government Website here.

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