National Records of Scotland

Preserving the past, Recording the present, Informing the future

Other Households

Other Households

Census Results 1981-2001
  • In Scotland, the proportion of all households represented by this type more than doubled over the period, from 5% of the total in 1981 to 14% in 2001.

  • Multi-pensioner households account for approximately 9% of all 'Other' households.

  • Student households account for 10% of all 'Other' households.

  • 'Other' households with dependents account for 32% of all 'Other' households.

'Other' households (which for the purposes of this paper are defined as all households not covered previously) accounted for approximately 5% of all households in Scotland in 1981. By 2001 this figure had more than doubled to nearly 14%. The main factors contributing to this increase are thought to be the rise in the number of multi-pensioner households and the rise in the number of multi-student households. With the constantly ageing population, it was found in the 2001 Census that multi-pensioner households accounted for 9% of 'Other' households and multi-student households 10%. 

However, another important family group which, as a result of divorce, is rapidly on the increase is the mixed family household. This household type, often ungraciously classified as a 'reconstituted' family, is one of the most difficult family groups to measure due to the different ways in which families of this type classify themselves. The parents in many of these families are not married and, as a result of this and the negative imagery associated with step-parents, do not classify the children as step-children but either as their own children or unrelated (Panneton, 1992).

Of the 300,000 or so 'Other' households in Scotland, nearly 32% were classed as 'Other - with 1 or more dependent'. This makes measuring the prevalence of this household type in our society problematic, and current estimates now understate the true figure. The matrix question in the 2001 Census appears to have given much more information and may provide a more accurate assessment of the prevalence of 'reconstituted' households. Figure 11 (11 KB PDF)[footnote 1] shows estimates of this family type over the last 20 years.

This graph shows that the experience of the Republic of Ireland is again very different to all countries within the UK, with the proportion of households in this category falling sharply. It is not clear why Ireland has seen such a different trend in this household type. However, given that Ireland did not use the relationship matrix question in their census, it is possible that the difference in trends observed in Figure 11 (11 KB PDF) [footnote 1] between the Irish data and the UK is due to the data not being comparable.

Clearly one can question the trend in Figure 11 (11 KB PDF) [footnote 1] and interpret it as an artefact of the relationship matrix, replacing a question which asked only for the relationship to the head of household.


1. 1981 Northen Ireland household composition data was inconsistent with the rest of the UK and Ireland and so is not included in Figure 11 (11 KB PDF).

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