Households

Note: We have based these facts on the latest available data. Some of the statistics (for example, marriages) are likely to change dramatically in 2020/21 because of the impact of Covid-19.

Number of households

A ‘household’ refers to a group of people living together. This could be one person living alone, or a group of people who may or may not be related to each other.

In 2019 there were 2.5 million households in Scotland.

The 2018-based household projections indicate that about one in five people lives alone. Single person households make up over a third of Scotland’s households. Older people are more likely to live alone: in the 70 plus age-group, nearly one in two women lives alone, and around one in four men.

National Records of Scotland. October 2020 update. Scotland's Population 2019. The Registrar General's Annual Review of Demographic Trends. [Accessed January 2021].

Increase in households

The number of households has increased by over 6.1% over the past ten years and is projected to keep growing.

The growth in households has been faster than the population growth because people are increasingly living alone or in smaller households. One-person households have become the most common type.

The number of single person households comprising males aged 30 to 64 has also increased.

Over the last decade, the average household size fell from 2.18 people per household in 2009 to 2.15 people per household in 2019. This is projected to fall further to 2.08 people per household by 2028 and to 2.00 by 2043. These changes are partly due to the ageing population, as elderly people are more likely than younger people to live alone or with just one other person.

National Records of Scotland. October 2020 update. Scotland's Population 2019. The Registrar General's Annual Review of Demographic Trends. [Accessed January 2021].

Families

There were 1.5 million families living in households in Scotland in 2011.

Census 2011: Detailed characteristics on Population and Households in Scotland - Release 3E. [Accessed February 2017].

Family make-up

Of these, 65% (967,000) were married couple families, 16% (237,000) were cohabiting couple families and 19% (291,000) were single parent families.

Census 2011: Detailed characteristics on Population and Households in Scotland - Release 3E. [Accessed February 2017].

Married or civil partner couples were the most common family type in 2019. Analysis of family type by Office for National Statistics in 2019 indicates that, in Scotland, 67.6% of families were married or civil partnership couple families; 17.3% were cohabiting couple families; and 15.1% were single parent families.

At 2019, married couple families include both opposite-sex and same-sex married couples. Cohabiting couple families include both opposite-sex and same-sex cohabiting couples.

Office for National Statistics. Families and households in the UK: 2019 [Accessed January 2021].

Households with dependent children

In 2011, 614,000 families in Scotland had dependent children.

The proportion of households with dependent children decreased from 28% in 2001 to 26% in 2011. In the same period, family households were increasingly likely to have only one dependent child.

Census 2011: Detailed characteristics on Population and Households in Scotland - Release 3E. [Accessed February 2017].

In 2019, 579,000 families in Scotland had dependent children (36.7%). This is lower than the UK average (42%).

Office for National Statistics. Families and households in the UK: 2019[Accessed January 2021].

Married, cohabiting and single parent families

In 2011 in Scotland, of the 614,000 families with dependent children, 54% (333,000) were married couple families; 15% (91,000) were cohabiting couple families; and 31% (190,000) were single parent families.

Census 2011: Detailed characteristics on Population and Households in Scotland - Release 3E [accessed February 2017].

In 2019 in Scotland, of the 579,000 families with dependent children, 59% (342,000) were married couple families, 16% (93,000) were opposite-sex cohabiting couple families, 1% (8,000) were same-sex cohabiting couples, and (25%) 144,000 were single parent families.

Office for National Statistics. Families and households in the UK: 2019. [Accessed January 2021].

Single parents

In 2011, there were over 190,000 single parents (almost one in three families).

Census 2011: Detailed characteristics on Population and Households in Scotland - Release 3E. [Accessed February 2017].

In 2019, in Scotland, there were 144,000 single parents with dependent children (this number has been falling in recent years). This is 25% of all families with dependent children.

92.3% were women and 7.6% were men.

(There were 94,000 single parents with non-dependent children.)

Office for National Statistics. Families and households in the UK: 2019[Accessed January 2021].

Young adults: living arrangements

In 2011, compared to 2001, young adults were less likely to be living alone or with a partner, with an increase in the proportion living with their parents.

Census 2011: Detailed characteristics on Population and Households in Scotland - Release 3E. [Accessed February 2017].

Across the UK, over the last two decades there has been a 46.3% increase in the number of young people aged 20 to 34 years (non-dependent children) living with their parent(s), increasing from 2.4 million in 1999 to 3.5 million in 2019. This is equivalent to more than a quarter of young adults of the same age-group living with parents in 2019. This number has not changed significantly since 2018.

Larger numbers of young adults tending to stay at home for longer may be explained by staying in education and training for longer, formalising relationships and having children at older ages, and increased costs in renting or buying a home.

Office for National Statistics. Families and households in the UK: 2019[Accessed 12 January 2021].

Gender of single parent households

Across the UK, single parent mothers remained the most common type of single parents in 2019. In Scotland, in 2019, 92.3% of single parents were women and 7.6% were men.

Office for National Statistics. Families and households in the UK: 2019[Accessed January 2021].

Single parents: marital status

For the UK, there are differences in the marital status of male and female single parents with dependent children: 30% of male single parents have never been married, compared with 57% of female single parents. 12% of male single parents with dependent children are widowed, but only 3% of female single parents.

Office for National Statistics (2016) Single parents with dependent children by marital status of parent, by sex, UK: 1996 to 2015. [Accessed January 2021].

Step-families

In 2011, of families with dependent children, step-families made up 8% (26,000) of married couple families and 29% (26,000) of cohabiting couple families. For married couple families, step-families made up 8% of families with one dependent child, 6% of families with two dependent children and 12% of families with three or more dependent children. For cohabiting couple families, step-families made up 24% of families with one dependent child, 31% of families with two dependent children and 46% of families with three or more dependent children. Step-families accounted for just over half (54%) of the 15,000 cohabiting couple families where the youngest dependent child was aged 12 or over.

Census 2011: Detailed characteristics on Population and Households in Scotland - Release 3E. [Accessed February 2017].