Each year since 1855, National Records of Scotland has published the Registrar General’s Annual Review of Demographic Trends, an overview of all the statistics we have gathered.

NRS statistician Amelia Brereton summarises our findings on Scotland’s households, as found in Scotland’s Population 2016 – the 162nd Annual Review.


Scotland’s population is growing and ageing. This has affected both the total number of households in Scotland and the most common types of household.

Older people are more likely to live on their own, or with just one other person. This means that as the number of older people in the population has gone up, so has the number of these smaller household types.

According to our latest estimates from the Scottish Household Survey, one-person households are now the most common type of household in Scotland. We estimate that nearly 900,000 people in Scotland are living alone, many of whom will be older people.

Number of Households

We also project how many households of different types there might be in the future, based on past trends.

We have projected that the number of people aged 65 or over living alone will increase by 45 per cent in 2014 to 484,800 people by 2039. In the oldest age groups – 85 and over – we have projected that the number of people living alone will more than double between 2014 and 2039.

It is important that we can project how many households there might be in future; where they will be; how many people will live in them and how old they will be.

This helps with planning for how many homes of different types will be needed. Knowing how many older households there might be in different areas is also important for planning services, such as community care.

You can find out more in our report, Scotland’s Population 2016. This year, the report contains an invited chapter on household composition and housing provision in Scotland written by Prof Elspeth Graham, Dr Francesca Fiori and Dr Kim McKee.

They include an overview of the statistics and research on this topic, new analysis of the housing patterns of young adults and older adults, and analysis of interviews with young adults aged 18-35.

Amelia Brereton

Assistant Statistician

National Records of Scotland

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