One-person households now most common in Scotland
Single-person households outnumber all other household sizes for the first time, census figures reveal.
• Single-occupancy households now most common type in Scotland
• Single-person households now account for 35 per cent of all homes
• In 1961, such households were the least common type at 14 per cent
• Analysts urge caution making economic forecasts from “dependency ratio”
One-person households now account for 35 per cent of all homes, with around two-fifths of Glaswegians (43 per cent) and Dundonians (40 per cent) and just over a quarter of Aberdonians (27 per cent) living alone, the latest release from the 2011 census shows.
In 1961, one-person households were the least common household type, accounting for just 14 per cent.
The average household size in Scotland is now 2.19 people, ranging from 2.02 in Glasgow to 2.42 in East Renfrewshire.
There has also been a drop in the ratio of people who are generally economically dependant on the working-age population because they are either too young or too old to work.
An 11 per cent rise in the number of over-65s since 2001 has been accompanied by a 6 per cent rise in people aged 15-64 and a 6 per cent drop in under-15s. This has resulted in fewer people generally regarded as non-economically active, with the proportion falling from 51 per cent to 49 per cent.
Statisticians urge caution when interpreting these “dependency ratios” as not all working-age people are economically active and some over-65s work past pension age.
The drop in under-15s could also have implications for the future as fewer people filter up to the jobs market in years to come while the current crop of older workers collect their pensions.
Amy Wilson, head of census statistics at National Records of Scotland, said: “Dependency ratios are quite a simplistic measure, hence the caveats. But they provide some kind of way of looking at how the younger and older population compares to the so-called working age.
“However, not everyone in the working-age group will be working and some of the older people will be economically active, so we are cautious about using them.
“The number of people aged 0-15 has decreased, so in 10 years’ time those people will be aged 10-25.
“What we have seen over the last couple of years is an increase in the number of under-fives but it remains to be seen whether that will be maintained over time.”
Overall, under-fives have increased in number by 6 per cent, although regional averages vary considerably, ranging from 18 per cent in Edinburgh to minus 11 per cent in Argyll & Bute.
The census recorded 19% more people aged over 80, ranging from just a 3 per cent increase in Glasgow to 44 per cent in East Dunbartonshire.
Ms Wilson said: “At the moment we have less younger people but what will that mean in 10 years’ time in terms of the working age population? And as life expectancy continues to increase, you have this growing population at the older end, and possibly a shrinking population of 15 to 64-year-olds relative to the older population.”
The proportion of over-65s ranges from 14 per cent in West Lothian to 22 per cent in Argyll & Bute. Under-15s range from 14% of the population in Aberdeen City to 19 per cent in West Lothian.
A shift in population distribution from west to east has been recorded in the last 10 years, with rises in areas such as Aberdeenshire (11.5 per cent) and the Lothians (10 per cent) and decreases in Argyll & Bute (minus 3.4 per cent) and Inverclyde (minus 3.2 per cent).
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