National Records of Scotland

Preserving the past, Recording the present, Informing the future

Results

Results

1. Overall number of households (Table 1)

The number of households in Scotland is projected to increase to 2.5 million between 2004 and 2024. This is an increase of 13 per cent, or 14,800 households per year. Over the same period, the  projected increase in Scotland’s population is around 0.8 per cent. Therefore, most of the 13 per cent increase in the number of households is due to  more people living alone or in smaller households. The average household size is projected to decrease from 2.22 in 2004 to 1.97 in 2024. This reflects a continuation of the long-running decline in average household size - in 1971, the average household size was around three people.

The projected yearly increase in the number of households is higher in the earlier part of the projection period than the later years. This reflects the population projections, which show an average projected increase of around 2,000 people each year to 2024, with the projected yearly change declining over time.

2. Type of household (Table 1)

Figure 1 shows the projected number of households of each type, in 2004 and 2024. There is a large increase in the number of adults living alone, from 770,000 (34 per cent of all households) in 2004 to over a million (42 per cent) by 2024. Households containing just two adults without children are projected to rise from 670,000 to 810,000, and the number of households containing one adult with children is projected to rise from 150,000 to 200,000. In contrast, the number of larger households is projected to fall, with households containing two or more adults with children decreasing from 460,000 (20 per cent of all households) in 2004 to 320,000 (12 per cent) by 2024. There is also a projected decrease in the number of households containing three or more adults, from 200,000 to 150,000.

3. Age of head of household (Table 2)

Figure 2 shows the projected number of households in 2004 and 2024, by the age of the head of household (the head of household is normally the first person entered on the Census form). The population projections show that Scotland’s population is ageing, with a projected increase in the number of people in the older age groups, and fewer people in the younger age groups. This trend is reflected in the household projections, with the largest increases shown in households headed by people aged 60 and over (an increase of over a third between 2004 and 2024, from 733,000 to 993,000). In contrast, households headed by someone aged under 60 are projected to increase by just two per cent, to around 1.55 million. The number of households headed by someone aged 85 or over is projected to more than double over the same period, from 56,000 to 117,000.

4. Household type by age of head of household (Table 3 and Table 4)

One adult households: In 2004, 19 per cent of people aged 16 or over lived alone, and this is projected to rise to 25 per cent by 2024. The figures vary according to gender and age, as illustrated in Figure 3a and Figure 3b and Figure 4. In most age groups up to their mid-50s, men are more likely to live alone than women. However, from the age of 55 onwards, women are more likely to live alone, and the figures increase with age. This is influenced by women's greater life expectancy, and the tendency of women to marry men who are older than them. 56 per cent of women aged 85 or over lived alone in 2004, and this is projected to rise to 70 per cent by 2024. 

The gap between the average life expectancy of men and women in Scotland is decreasing, as men are living longer. This means that the number of older men is projected to increase more rapidly, which contributes to the projected increase in the number of men living alone, from 331,000 households in 2004 to 487,000 in 2024, an increase of nearly a half. The number of men living alone who are aged 85 or over is projected to increase from 9,000 to 22,000.

Households containing two or more adults without children: There are large projected increases in the number of households containing two or more people in the older age groups, which is also likely to be influenced by the increase in average life expectancy, and narrowing of the gap between the life expectancy of men and women. The number of two-adult households headed by someone aged 60 or over is projected to increase by a third, from 365,000 in 2004 to 487,000 in 2024.

Households containing one adult with children: In 2004, seven per cent of households consisted of one adult living with one or more children, and this is projected to increase to eight per cent in 2024. There is a small projected decrease in the number of households of this type headed by someone aged 16-24, and projected increases in the older age groups, particularly those aged 45 and over.

Households containing two or more adults with children: In 2004, 20 per cent of households contained two or more adults with children; this figure is projected to fall to 13 per cent by 2024.  There are reductions in all age groups, particularly the younger age groups, which may reflect the increase in the average age at which women have their first child.

5. Household projections by household type and local authority area (Table 5-17)

It should be noted that projections for areas with small populations tend to be less reliable than those for areas with larger populations.

Total number of households by local authority area (Table 5): The number of households in almost every local authority area is projected to increase. Figure 5a  and Figure 5b show the projected number of households in each local authority area in 2004 and 2024, and the percentage change in the number of households. Figure 6 shows the projected percentage change in the number of households between 2004 and 2024.

The largest projected increase between 2004 and 2024 is in West Lothian (34 per cent). Edinburgh, the Scottish Borders, East Lothian and Fife all have projected increases of between 21 and 23 per cent. Aberdeen City has a projected decrease of 6 per cent over the same period, and Dundee City has a projected decrease of 5 per cent.

One adult households (Tables 6 and 7)Figure 7 shows the percentage of households which contain just one adult, in each local authority area, in 2024. In every local authority area there is a projected increase between 2004 and 2024 in the number of people living alone. In general, the city authorities have some of the highest proportions of people living alone, comprising between 44 and 52 per cent of all households in Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow in 2024, compared to a Scottish average of 42 per cent. 

Households containing one adult with children (Tables 6 and 8): Almost all local authority areas are projected to see an increase in the number of households consisting of one adult with one or more children, with only Moray and Aberdeen City showing decreases of 7 and 6 per cent respectively between 2004 and 2024. In 2024, the highest proportion of households of this type is projected to be in Glasgow and North Lanarkshire (10-11 per cent of all households in these areas). The smallest percentages are in Eilean Siar, Moray and Orkney (3-4 per cent of all households in these areas).

Households containing two or more adults without children (Tables 6 and 9): The proportion of households consisting of two or more adults in 2004 varied from 31 per cent in Glasgow to 43 per cent in Aberdeenshire, Dumfries & Galloway, Moray and Stirling. For most local authority areas, the proportion of households in this group is not projected to change greatly between 2004 and 2024.

Households containing two or more adults with children (Tables 6 and 10): The number of households containing two or more adults with children is projected to decrease in every local authority area, between 2004 and 2024. The four city authorities, with some of the highest proportions of single people also have some of the smallest proportions of households comprising two or more adults with children – between 9 and 12 per cent in 2024, compared to the Scottish average of 13 per cent of all households. Eilean Siar is also projected to have a small proportion of these larger households – 10 per cent in 2024, compared to 21 per cent in 2004. The highest percentage of households of this type is projected to be in East Lothian, East Dunbartonshire, East Renfrewshire, Moray and West Lothian (between 16 and 20 per cent of all households) – though even these areas show a projected decrease between 2004 and 2024. Figure 8 shows the percentage of households containing children (whether there are one, two or more adults), in each local authority area in 2024.

6. Household projections by age of the head of household and local authority area (Tables 11-16)

Every local authority area in Scotland is projected to see an increase in the number of households headed by someone aged 60-74. The largest projected increases are in Aberdeenshire (57 per cent), West Lothian (49 per cent) and Shetland (44 per cent). In most local authority areas, even larger increases are projected in the number of households headed by someone aged 75 or over – the figures are projected to more than double in Aberdeenshire, Orkney and West Lothian. In contrast, the projections indicate a decrease of seven per cent in the number of households headed by someone aged 75 or over, in Glasgow.

7. Projected average household size by local authority area (Table 17)

The average household size is projected to decrease in every local authority area in Scotland. The areas with the largest average projected household size in 2024 are East Renfrewshire (2.27), Midlothian and East Dunbartonshire (both 2.14). The areas with the smallest average household size in 2024 are the four main cities of Aberdeen, Dundee, Glasgow and Edinburgh, and the three island authorities of Eilean Siar, Orkney and Shetland (between 1.75 and 1.92). The decrease is greater in the island authorities, which currently have a higher average household size than the cities. 

In over half of local authority areas, the average household size is projected to be under two people in 2024.

8. Household projections by structure plan area (Tables 18 - 22)

The household projections by Structure Plan Area reflect the trends at local authority area, with the biggest percentage increases in Edinburgh and Lothians and Scottish Borders, and little overall change in Dundee and Angus and Eilean Siar.