National Records of Scotland

Preserving the past, Recording the present, Informing the future

250 people died while homeless last year

250 people died while homeless last year

Tuesday, 22 Nov 2022
demography news release image

An estimated 250 people died while experiencing homelessness in Scotland in 2021, according to new figures published by National Records of Scotland.  This is at a similar level to last year. 

Midlothian, Glasgow City, and the City of Edinburgh had the highest rates of homeless deaths within Scotland, whilst Na h-Eileanan Siar, Orkney Islands, Perth and Kinross, and Stirling council areas recorded none. 

81% of those who died were male and 60% were aged under 45. 

Head of Vital Events, Julie Ramsay, said:

“Drug-misuse deaths of people experiencing homelessness fell in the past year for the first time, from 151 to 127, but it was still the cause of over half of all deaths for people experiencing homelessness in 2021. 

“As in previous years, the death rate of males is much higher than that of females. 81% of deaths in 2021 were male and 19% were female. The age profile of females was younger, with 72% of those who died being under the age of 45.”

There were two deaths where the underlying cause was COVID-19.

While these figures are similar to last year’s, the estimated number of people dying while experiencing homelessness is higher than in 2017, the first year that NRS collected this data. 

Similar statistics exist for the other nations of the UK but they are not considered to be comparable. An article was published by the Government Statistical Service (GSS) yesterday about the comparability of these statistics across the United Kingdom.


The National Records of Scotland (NRS) is responsible for producing statistics on Scotland’s population.

The full report and an infographic for Homeless Deaths 2021 is available on our website.

These are experimental figures. Establishing an accurate number is hard because not all people who die while experiencing homelessness have their lack of permanent home recorded on their death registration record. The estimated number of deaths is established by examining death registration records to find people who were either in temporary accommodation or were sleeping rough before they died and adding to this a conservative estimated figure based on sampling. The probability is the true figure is higher. The methodology is explained further in the report on our website.  Estimates of homeless deaths in other parts of the UK are not comparable with those for Scotland – this article (jointly published by statistics producers across the UK) explains why.

Official statistics are produced by professionally independent statistical staff. General information about population statistics can be accessed in the About our Statistics section of the NRS website.

Media enquiries should be directed to:

Donna Green
NRS Communications
Tel: 07775-027-380
Email: [email protected] 

Further information about the statistics is available from:

NRS Customer Services
Email: [email protected]