An Accredited Official Statistics Publication for Scotland

Published on 21st March 2024

This is the latest release.

This report presents three-year averaged estimates of the proportion of people, children, working-age adults and pensioners in Scotland living in poverty, and other statistics on household income and income inequality. These estimates are used to monitor progress in reducing poverty, child poverty and income inequality.

Similar to the previous two annual publications, the latest estimates are only for a two year period. The latest estimates are for between April 2021 and March 2023 as data for April 2020 - March 2021 was removed due to quality issues related to the pandemic.

What you need to know

Statistics in this report are based on data from the Family Resources Survey. This survey has been the main source of information on household income and poverty in Scotland since 1994/95.

Poverty measures

The Scottish Government measures different aspects of poverty with different indicators. The most commonly used poverty indicator in Scotland for showing trends is relative poverty after housing costs. Other poverty measures in this report are absolute poverty, material deprivation, and degrees of household food security. These are included in additional charts throughout the report.

Unless otherwise stated, these statistics are based on net income and adjusted for household size. Net income is income from earnings, social security payments and other sources minus taxes. All incomes are in 2022/23 prices, so the purchasing power is comparable over time. Estimates in this publication are rounded to the nearest £1 for weekly incomes, £100 for annual incomes, 1% for proportions and ratios, and 10,000 for populations. Poverty is defined at the household level. If the household income is below the poverty threshold, all people within the household are in poverty.

Survey data

The estimates in this publication are based on a sample survey and are therefore subject to sampling variation.

For example, the child poverty rates for Scotland in the latest period can vary within a typical uncertainty range of plus or minus six percentage points, or plus or minus 70,000 children. This means that the proportion of children in relative poverty is likely to be somewhere between 18% and 30%. And the number of children in relative poverty after housing costs is likely to be somewhere between 170,000 and 310,000 children. Poverty rates and numbers shown in this report give the central estimates only.

For some of the key estimates, you can find the ranges in the measurement uncertainty section. To show this in the poverty charts, you can also add indicative confidence intervals around the trendlines.

Add confidence intervals by clicking on the greyed-out parts of the legend.

None of the latest changes in the estimated poverty rates in the Poverty and Child poverty sections of this report are statistically significant. It is therefore better to look at longer-term trends to confirm that a change over time is real, or that differences between groups are consistent.

Three-year averages

The poverty and income estimates are shown as three-year rolling (overlapping) averages, unless stated otherwise. Taking the average over three years reduces fluctuation due to sampling variation and shows trends and differences between groups more clearly.

Some single-year estimates are also available in the associated tables.

Impact of the pandemic

The coronavirus - COVID 19 pandemic severely disrupted the data collection in 2020/21. As a result, we were unable to obtain a representative sample for Scotland in that year.

Subsequent years are considered to be representative of the Scottish population.

This means that the periods 2018-21, 2019-22 and 2020-23 only contain data from two financial years each. Therefore, some real changes that happened to incomes, such as the furlough scheme or the temporary increase of Universal Credit are only partially captured in the time series.

Due to the missing year of data and the ongoing impact of the pandemic on survey response rates, the sample size is much reduced in the latest three periods. This means that data is more volatile, and sudden changes need to be interpreted with caution.

More information about the impact of the pandemic on data collection and the data itself is available in DWP’s HBAI Technical report.

All people

The most commonly used poverty indicator in Scotland is relative poverty after housing costs. Alongside this key indicator, we also report on other poverty measures, focusing on different aspects of poverty.

Relative poverty

Relative poverty rate for all individuals slightly higher than in recent years

It is estimated that 21% of Scotland’s population (1,110,000 people each year) were living in relative poverty after housing costs in 2020-23. Before housing costs, 19% of the population (1,020,000 people) were living in poverty.

A person is in relative poverty if their current household income is less than 60% of the current UK median. Increases in the proportion of people living in relative poverty indicate that the gap between the poorest households and the middle income households is widening.

The latest after-housing poverty estimate is similar to last year (21%) but slightly higher than levels in the last decade. This has been driven by the poverty trends for working-age adults. The proportion of people in relative poverty after housing costs had been falling slightly between the late nineties and the lowest point in this time series in 2009-12. After that, it started to rise again up until 2015-18, with a further rise in 2019-22 to the current rate of 21%. Before-housing-costs poverty looks similar, with the all-time low slightly later, in 2011-14.

Add confidence intervals by clicking on the greyed-out parts of the legend.

Table 1a: Proportion of people in relative poverty, Scotland
Source: Family Resources Survey
Measure 1994-97 1995-98 1996-99 1997-00 1998-01 1999-02 2000-03 2001-04 2002-05 2003-06 2004-07 2005-08 2006-09 2007-10 2008-11 2009-12 2010-13 2011-14 2012-15 2013-16 2014-17 2015-18 2016-19 2017-20 2018-21 2019-22 2020-23
After housing costs 24% 23% 23% 23% 24% 24% 23% 22% 21% 20% 19% 19% 19% 19% 18% 18% 18% 18% 18% 18% 19% 20% 19% 19% 19% 21% 21%
Before housing costs 21% 21% 21% 20% 20% 20% 20% 19% 18% 18% 17% 17% 17% 17% 16% 15% 15% 14% 15% 15% 16% 17% 17% 17% 17% 19% 19%
Table 1b: Sample size
Source: Family Resources Survey
Group 1994-97 1995-98 1996-99 1997-00 1998-01 1999-02 2000-03 2001-04 2002-05 2003-06 2004-07 2005-08 2006-09 2007-10 2008-11 2009-12 2010-13 2011-14 2012-15 2013-16 2014-17 2015-18 2016-19 2017-20 2018-21 2019-22 2020-23
All people 8,299 8,105 7,698 7,579 7,626 8,095 11,023 14,003 16,458 16,157 15,337 15,092 14,739 14,686 14,442 13,385 12,152 10,750 10,277 9,795 9,596 9,369 9,521 9,346 6,239 5,061 4,236

Absolute poverty

Absolute poverty rate for all individuals broadly stable

It is estimated that 17% of the population (940,000 people each year) were living in absolute poverty after housing costs in 2020-23. After a long decline since the mid-nineties, absolute poverty rates have remained at similar levels over the last decade.

Before housing costs, 16% of the population (850,000 people each year) were in absolute poverty in 2020-23. The trend is similar to the after housing costs measure, although the downward trend started to level off a few years later.

A person is in absolute poverty if their current household income is less than 60% of the UK median in 2010/11, adjusted for inflation. Increases in the proportion of people living in absolute poverty indicate that prices are rising faster than the incomes of the poorest households.

Table 2a: Proportion of people in absolute poverty, Scotland
Source: Family Resources Survey
Measure 1994-97 1995-98 1996-99 1997-00 1998-01 1999-02 2000-03 2001-04 2002-05 2003-06 2004-07 2005-08 2006-09 2007-10 2008-11 2009-12 2010-13 2011-14 2012-15 2013-16 2014-17 2015-18 2016-19 2017-20 2018-21 2019-22 2020-23
After housing costs 39% 38% 35% 33% 31% 29% 27% 24% 22% 21% 20% 19% 18% 18% 18% 18% 18% 18% 18% 18% 17% 18% 17% 17% 17% 17% 17%
Before housing costs 37% 35% 33% 31% 30% 28% 25% 23% 21% 19% 18% 18% 17% 17% 16% 15% 15% 15% 15% 15% 14% 15% 14% 14% 14% 15% 16%
Table 2b: Sample size
Source: Family Resources Survey
Group 1994-97 1995-98 1996-99 1997-00 1998-01 1999-02 2000-03 2001-04 2002-05 2003-06 2004-07 2005-08 2006-09 2007-10 2008-11 2009-12 2010-13 2011-14 2012-15 2013-16 2014-17 2015-18 2016-19 2017-20 2018-21 2019-22 2020-23
All people 8,299 8,105 7,698 7,579 7,626 8,095 11,023 14,003 16,458 16,157 15,337 15,092 14,739 14,686 14,442 13,385 12,152 10,750 10,277 9,795 9,596 9,369 9,521 9,346 6,239 5,061 4,236

Food security

A third of people in poverty live in households that lack high food security

Food security is measured at a household level. The person in the household who knows most about buying and preparing food responds to the questions about food security. Note that not everyone in the household may experience this in the same way. For example, a parent may have worried about running out of food or reduced their own meal sizes, but protected their young children from this experience.

In 2020-23, 84% of the population lived in households with high food security. This means that 16% of people lived in households with marginal, low or very low food security.

People in poverty were less likely to experience high food security: just 66% of those in relative poverty, and 68% of those in severe poverty lived in high food security households.

People are in severe poverty when their household income is less than half of the UK median income.

Household food security questions were newly added to the Family Resources Survey in 2019/20. They ask about whether people were worried about running out of food, had to reduce meal sizes or skip meals. More information can be found in the Definitions section.

Table 3a: Levels of household food security of all people and those in poverty after housing costs, Scotland 2020-23
Source: Family Resources Survey
Group High Marginal Low Very low
All people 84% 6% 4% 5%
In relative poverty 66% 13% 9% 12%
In severe poverty 68% 10% 10% 13%
Table 3b: Sample size
Source: Family Resources Survey
Group Sample
All people 4,206
In relative poverty 810
In severe poverty 552

Food security tables are now available for a range of household types and equality characteristics in the associated tables. They show, for example, that the older the household, the more food secure it is.

Children

Children are more likely to be in poverty across all measures compared to adults.

The Child Poverty (Scotland) Act 2017 requires us to report every year on four different child poverty measures. The latest single-year estimates can be found in the Child poverty summary. In this report, however, we show three-year averaged estimates only, which are better for seeing trends.

In this publication, ‘child’ refers to a dependent child. This is explained in the Definitions section.

Relative poverty

Child poverty broadly stable

It is estimated that 24% of children (240,000 children each year) were living in relative poverty after housing costs in 2020-23. Before housing costs, it is estimated that 23% of children (230,000 children each year) were in relative poverty.

After a long fall between the late nineties and 2010-13, which slowed briefly just before the 2008/09 recession, child poverty rates rose again. The after-housing-cost rise appears to have stopped rising now, whereas the before-housing costs measure continues to rise slightly.

Add confidence intervals by clicking on the greyed-out parts of the legend.

Table 4a: Proportion of children in relative poverty, Scotland
Source: Family Resources Survey
Measure 1994-97 1995-98 1996-99 1997-00 1998-01 1999-02 2000-03 2001-04 2002-05 2003-06 2004-07 2005-08 2006-09 2007-10 2008-11 2009-12 2010-13 2011-14 2012-15 2013-16 2014-17 2015-18 2016-19 2017-20 2018-21 2019-22 2020-23
After housing costs 32% 32% 32% 31% 31% 31% 30% 28% 26% 25% 25% 24% 25% 24% 24% 21% 21% 21% 22% 23% 23% 24% 23% 24% 25% 24% 24%
Before housing costs 29% 29% 30% 29% 27% 27% 26% 25% 23% 22% 21% 20% 21% 20% 19% 17% 17% 16% 16% 16% 18% 20% 20% 21% 20% 22% 23%
Table 4b: Sample size
Source: Family Resources Survey
Group 1994-97 1995-98 1996-99 1997-00 1998-01 1999-02 2000-03 2001-04 2002-05 2003-06 2004-07 2005-08 2006-09 2007-10 2008-11 2009-12 2010-13 2011-14 2012-15 2013-16 2014-17 2015-18 2016-19 2017-20 2018-21 2019-22 2020-23
Children 2,277 2,168 1,980 1,921 1,858 1,967 2,708 3,414 3,963 3,771 3,543 3,498 3,443 3,417 3,364 3,103 2,851 2,504 2,386 2,174 2,122 1,974 2,031 1,947 1,326 1,000 731

Working poverty

Having paid work is an effective way out of poverty, and those families where all adults are in full-time work have a low poverty risk. But having a job is not always enough, for example when it does not pay well, or when someone is unable to work enough hours.

More than two thirds of children in poverty live in working households

While the poverty risk is much lower for children in working households compared to those in non-working households, not all work pays enough to ensure the household is above the poverty threshold. Figure 5a shows the make-up of children in poverty, and Figure 5b shows the proportion of those in poverty who live in working households.

It is estimated that in 2020-23, 70% of children in relative poverty after housing costs were living in working households.

Figure 5b shows that in-work poverty has been increasing consistently, reflecting high employment rates, and is now at its highest level.

The terms ‘working’ and ‘in-work poverty’ here refer to paid employment. They do not include unpaid work such as caring for your children or other family members. In-work poverty refers to the share of children in poverty who live in households where at least one member of the household is in either full or part-time paid work.

Table 5a: Children in relative poverty after housing costs by household work status, Scotland
Source: Family Resources Survey
Group 1996-99 1997-00 1998-01 1999-02 2000-03 2001-04 2002-05 2003-06 2004-07 2005-08 2006-09 2007-10 2008-11 2009-12 2010-13 2011-14 2012-15 2013-16 2014-17 2015-18 2016-19 2017-20 2018-21 2019-22 2020-23
In workless households 53% 56% 55% 53% 51% 52% 54% 52% 50% 49% 50% 51% 49% 49% 46% 45% 41% 36% 34% 34% 35% 32% 32% 31% 30%
In working households 47% 44% 45% 47% 49% 48% 46% 48% 50% 51% 50% 49% 51% 51% 54% 55% 59% 64% 66% 66% 65% 68% 68% 69% 70%
Table 5b: Sample size
Source: Family Resources Survey
Group 1996-99 1997-00 1998-01 1999-02 2000-03 2001-04 2002-05 2003-06 2004-07 2005-08 2006-09 2007-10 2008-11 2009-12 2010-13 2011-14 2012-15 2013-16 2014-17 2015-18 2016-19 2017-20 2018-21 2019-22 2020-23
Children 1,980 1,921 1,858 1,967 2,708 3,414 3,963 3,771 3,543 3,498 3,443 3,417 3,364 3,103 2,851 2,504 2,386 2,174 2,122 1,974 2,031 1,947 1,326 1,000 731

Absolute poverty

Absolute poverty rate for children broadly stable

Absolute child poverty after housing costs affected 21% (210,000 children each year). Before housing costs, absolute child poverty was at 19% (190,000 children each year).

The long-term pattern for absolute child poverty is similar to relative child poverty although absolute child poverty fell from higher levels in the mid 1990s. Since around 2013-16 the after housing costs rate has remained largely flat whilst the before housing costs rate has risen slightly.

Table 6a: Proportion of children in absolute poverty, Scotland
Source: Family Resources Survey
Measure 1994-97 1995-98 1996-99 1997-00 1998-01 1999-02 2000-03 2001-04 2002-05 2003-06 2004-07 2005-08 2006-09 2007-10 2008-11 2009-12 2010-13 2011-14 2012-15 2013-16 2014-17 2015-18 2016-19 2017-20 2018-21 2019-22 2020-23
After housing costs 50% 49% 46% 43% 40% 38% 34% 31% 27% 26% 25% 24% 24% 24% 23% 22% 22% 22% 22% 22% 21% 22% 21% 21% 21% 21% 21%
Before housing costs 46% 46% 43% 40% 38% 36% 33% 29% 25% 23% 22% 21% 20% 20% 19% 17% 17% 17% 16% 15% 15% 17% 16% 17% 16% 18% 19%
Table 6b: Sample size
Source: Family Resources Survey
Group 1994-97 1995-98 1996-99 1997-00 1998-01 1999-02 2000-03 2001-04 2002-05 2003-06 2004-07 2005-08 2006-09 2007-10 2008-11 2009-12 2010-13 2011-14 2012-15 2013-16 2014-17 2015-18 2016-19 2017-20 2018-21 2019-22 2020-23
Children 2,277 2,168 1,980 1,921 1,858 1,967 2,708 3,414 3,963 3,771 3,543 3,498 3,443 3,417 3,364 3,103 2,851 2,504 2,386 2,174 2,122 1,974 2,031 1,947 1,326 1,000 731

Material deprivation

Children in combined material deprivation and low income broadly stable

It is estimated that 10% of children were living in combined low income and material deprivation after housing costs in 2020-23. Before housing costs, this was 10% of children.

The long-term trend in the rate since 2010-13 should be viewed as stable. Although the chart shows a recent, gradual fall it covers a time when families were less able to undertake certain activities due to the pandemic, and not necessarily because they couldn’t afford to. This changed how people responded to the material deprivation questions and should be taken into consideration.

It is not possible to say how many children are affected in the latest period due to the low sample sizes achieved during and following the pandemic. However, between 2015-18 and 2018-2021, it is useful to observe that numbers of children in combined low income after housing costs and material deprivation were stable at 110,000 each year.

Combined low income and child material deprivation is an additional way of measuring living standards. It is about households who cannot afford basic goods and activities that are seen as necessities in society.

More detail on this can be found in the Definitions section.

Table 7a: Proportion of children in combined low income and material deprivation, Scotland
Source: Family Resources Survey
Measure 2004-07 2005-08 2006-09 2007-10 2008-11 2010-13 2011-14 2012-15 2013-16 2014-17 2015-18 2016-19 2017-20 2018-21 2019-22 2020-23
Old measure, after housing costs 16% 15% 16% 16% 16% -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --
New measure, after housing costs -- -- -- -- -- 12% 12% 13% 13% 12% 12% 12% 13% 12% 11% 10%
Old measure, before housing costs 15% 15% 16% 15% 15% -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --
New measure, before housing costs -- -- -- -- -- 10% 11% 11% 11% 10% 11% 11% 11% 11% 10% 10%
Table 7b: Sample size
Source: Family Resources Survey
Measure 2004-07 2005-08 2006-09 2007-10 2008-11 2009-12 2010-13 2011-14 2012-15 2013-16 2014-17 2015-18 2016-19 2017-20 2018-21 2019-22 2020-23
Old measure 3,543 3,498 3,443 3,417 3,364 -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --
New measure -- -- -- -- -- -- 2,851 2,504 2,386 2,174 2,122 1,974 2,031 1,947 1,326 1,000 731

Material deprivation data has been collected since 2004/05. Due to a change in the methodology, it is not possible to compare the most recent years with years before 2010-13 directly. This is shown as a break in the chart. But trends before and after the break are broadly stable.

Food security

Children in poverty often live in households that lack food security

Food security is measured at a household level. The person in the household who knows most about buying and preparing food responds to the questions about food security. Note that not everyone in the household may experience this in the same way. For example, a parent may have worried about running out of food or reduced their own meal sizes, but protected their young children from this experience.

In 2020-23, 78% of children lived in households with high food security. This means that 22% of children lived in households with marginal, low or very low food security.

Children in poverty were less likely to have high food security: just 58% of those in relative poverty. It is not possible to report on food security results for children in severe poverty due to a low sample size.

People are in severe poverty when their household income is less than half of the UK median income.

Household food security questions were newly added to the Family Resources Survey in 2019/20. They ask about whether people were worried about running out of food, had to reduce meal sizes or skip meals. More information can be found in the Definitions section.

Table 8a: Levels of food security of all children and those in poverty after housing costs, Scotland 2020-23
Source: Family Resources Survey
Group High Marginal Low Very low
All children 78% 8% 6% 7%
In relative poverty 58% 19% 12% 12%
In severe poverty -- -- -- --
Table 8b: Sample size
Source: Family Resources Survey
Group Sample
All children 731
In relative poverty 136
In severe poverty 92

Priority groups

Some types of households with children are known to be at a particularly high risk of poverty. These include households with single parents, three or more children, disabled household members, of a minority ethnic background, with a child aged under one, or a mother aged under 25. These groups do not cover everyone at higher risk of poverty, but taken together, they cover the majority of households with children that are in poverty.

This section looks at children in these groups, and their poverty risk under four different poverty measures.

Note that households with mothers aged under 25 and households with babies aged under 1 are not included in this analysis, because there were too few of them in the sample this year to provide robust estimates.

Here, the minority ethnic group includes white minorities such as white people who are not British. The Equality analysis section includes more detailed ethnicity categories.

Relative poverty

Children in some priority groups have a higher risk of being in relative poverty

Children in some of the priority groups were more likely to be in relative poverty compared to all children. This was particularly true for those in ethnic minority households.

Table 9a: Proportion of children in relative poverty after housing cost, Scotland 2020-23
Source: Family Resources Survey
Group Rate
All children 24%
3 or more children in the household 38%
Disabled household member(s) 27%
Youngest child in the household is under 1 --
Minority ethnic household 43%
Single parent in the household 38%
Mother under 25 in household --
Table 9b: Sample size
Source: Family Resources Survey
Group Sample
All children 731
3 or more children in the household 101
Disabled household member(s) 276
Youngest child in the household is under 1 61
Minority ethnic household 118
Single parent in the household 176
Mother under 25 in household 15

Absolute poverty

Children in some priority groups have a higher risk of being in absolute poverty

Children in some of the priority groups were more likely to be in absolute poverty compared to all children. This was particularly true for ethnic minority households.

Table 10a: Proportion of children in absolute poverty after housing costs, Scotland 2020-23
Source: Family Resources Survey
Group Rate
All children 21%
3 or more children in the household 35%
Disabled household member(s) 23%
Youngest child in the household is under 1 --
Minority ethnic household 38%
Single parent in the household 33%
Mother under 25 in household --
Table 10b: Sample size
Source: Family Resources Survey
Group Sample
All children 731
3 or more children in the household 101
Disabled household member(s) 276
Youngest child in the household is under 1 61
Minority ethnic household 118
Single parent in the household 176
Mother under 25 in household 15

Material deprivation

Children in some priority groups have a higher risk of experiencing combined low income and material deprivation

Children in some of the priority groups tended to be more likely to be in combined low income and material deprivation compared to all children. This was particularly true for those with a single parent in the household.

Table 11a: Proportion of children in combined low income and material deprivation, Scotland 2020-23
Source: Family Resources Survey
Group Rate
All children 10%
3 or more children in the household 18%
Disabled household member(s) 18%
Youngest child in the household is under 1 --
Minority ethnic household 13%
Single parent in the household 23%
Mother under 25 in household --
Table 11b: Sample size
Source: Family Resources Survey
Group Sample
All children 731
3 or more children in the household 101
Disabled household member(s) 276
Youngest child in the household is under 1 61
Minority ethnic household 118
Single parent in the household 176
Mother under 25 in household 15

Persistent poverty

Children in priority groups have a higher risk of being in persistent poverty

The persistent poverty measure is based on data from the Understanding Society Survey. We cover this measure in detail in the Persistent Poverty report.

It is not possible to present results for the priority groups for the most recent period due to sample size. Please consult table 7a and 7b of the accompanying excel tables to see results for previous years.

Working-age adults

Working-age adults tend to be less likely to be in poverty compared to children.

Working-age adults are all adults up to the state pension age. Women’s state pension age reached 65 in November 2018, aligning it with men’s state pension age. Since December 2018, the state pension age for both men and women has been increasing. In the latest data period included in this report, the State Pension age for both men and women increased to 66 years.

Relative poverty

Relative poverty rate for working-age adults slightly higher than in recent years

Relative poverty for working-age adults has been broadly stable since the nineties, when reporting began. The relative poverty rate in 2020-23 was estimated to be 21% after housing costs, and 18% before housing costs. This equated to 720,000 working-age adults in poverty after housing costs, and 620,000 before housing costs.

The latest estimates are similar to last year but slightly higher than in years previous to that. The higher trend in poverty could be driven by more working-age adults who were economically inactive as a result of the pandemic.

Add confidence intervals by clicking on the greyed-out parts of the legend.

Table 12a: Proportion of working-age adults in relative poverty, Scotland
Source: Family Resources Survey
Measure 1994-97 1995-98 1996-99 1997-00 1998-01 1999-02 2000-03 2001-04 2002-05 2003-06 2004-07 2005-08 2006-09 2007-10 2008-11 2009-12 2010-13 2011-14 2012-15 2013-16 2014-17 2015-18 2016-19 2017-20 2018-21 2019-22 2020-23
After housing costs 18% 18% 19% 19% 20% 20% 20% 19% 19% 19% 18% 18% 18% 19% 19% 18% 19% 19% 19% 19% 19% 20% 19% 19% 19% 21% 21%
Before housing costs 16% 15% 16% 16% 17% 17% 17% 17% 16% 15% 15% 15% 15% 16% 15% 14% 14% 14% 14% 15% 16% 16% 16% 16% 16% 18% 18%
Table 12b: Sample size
Source: Family Resources Survey
Group 1994-97 1995-98 1996-99 1997-00 1998-01 1999-02 2000-03 2001-04 2002-05 2003-06 2004-07 2005-08 2006-09 2007-10 2008-11 2009-12 2010-13 2011-14 2012-15 2013-16 2014-17 2015-18 2016-19 2017-20 2018-21 2019-22 2020-23
Working-age adults 6,205 6,129 5,809 5,759 5,727 6,101 8,251 10,399 12,170 11,917 11,315 11,108 10,812 10,774 10,526 9,767 8,854 7,834 7,432 7,003 6,854 6,647 6,808 6,661 4,457 3,518 2,832

Working poverty

Having paid work is an effective way out of poverty, and those families where all adults are in full-time work have a low poverty risk. But having a job is not always enough, for example when it does not pay well, or when someone is unable to work enough hours.

Most working-age adults in poverty live in working households

Figure 13a shows the make-up of working-age adults in poverty, and Figure 13b shows the proportion of those in poverty who live in working households.

In 2020-23, 60% of working-age adults (430,000 working-age adults each year) in relative poverty after housing costs were living in a household where someone was in paid work.

The share of working-age adults in poverty who lived in working households broadly increased since 2011-14. However, statistics for the last two reporting years show an increase in households where no-one is in paid work.

The terms ‘working’ and ‘in-work poverty’ here refer to paid employment. They do not include unpaid work such as caring for your children or other family members. In-work poverty refers to the share of children in poverty who live in households where at least one member of the household is in either full or part-time paid work.

Table 13a: Working-age adults in relative poverty after housing costs by household work status, Scotland
Source: Family Resources Survey
Group 1996-99 1997-00 1998-01 1999-02 2000-03 2001-04 2002-05 2003-06 2004-07 2005-08 2006-09 2007-10 2008-11 2009-12 2010-13 2011-14 2012-15 2013-16 2014-17 2015-18 2016-19 2017-20 2018-21 2019-22 2020-23
In workless households 52% 52% 53% 52% 48% 49% 50% 49% 48% 47% 49% 48% 48% 48% 47% 48% 45% 43% 41% 40% 40% 39% 38% 43% 40%
In working households 48% 48% 47% 48% 52% 51% 50% 51% 52% 53% 51% 52% 52% 52% 53% 52% 55% 57% 59% 60% 60% 61% 62% 57% 60%
Table 13b: Sample size
Source: Family Resources Survey
Group 1996-99 1997-00 1998-01 1999-02 2000-03 2001-04 2002-05 2003-06 2004-07 2005-08 2006-09 2007-10 2008-11 2009-12 2010-13 2011-14 2012-15 2013-16 2014-17 2015-18 2016-19 2017-20 2018-21 2019-22 2020-23
Working-age adults 5,809 5,759 5,727 6,101 8,251 10,399 12,170 11,917 11,315 11,108 10,812 10,774 10,526 9,767 8,854 7,834 7,432 7,003 6,854 6,647 6,808 6,661 4,457 3,518 2,832

Absolute poverty

Absolute poverty rate for working-age adults broadly stable

Absolute poverty amongst working-age adults remained broadly stable during the last fifteen years. In 2020-23, 18% of working-age adults were in absolute poverty after housing costs, and 16% before housing costs.

This means that in 2020-23, there were 620,000 working-age adults each year in absolute poverty after housing costs, compared to 530,000 before housing costs.

The latest estimates are comparable to the last period but higher than in 2018-21. It is yet unclear whether this position will be held in future years.

Table 14a: Proportion of working-age adults in absolute poverty, Scotland<br>Note: see commentary for data concerns around latest estimate
Source: Family Resources Survey
Measure 1994-97 1995-98 1996-99 1997-00 1998-01 1999-02 2000-03 2001-04 2002-05 2003-06 2004-07 2005-08 2006-09 2007-10 2008-11 2009-12 2010-13 2011-14 2012-15 2013-16 2014-17 2015-18 2016-19 2017-20 2018-21 2019-22 2020-23
After housing costs 31% 30% 28% 27% 26% 25% 23% 21% 20% 19% 19% 18% 18% 19% 19% 18% 19% 19% 19% 19% 18% 18% 17% 17% 17% 18% 18%
Before housing costs 28% 27% 26% 25% 24% 23% 21% 19% 18% 17% 16% 15% 15% 15% 15% 15% 14% 14% 15% 14% 14% 14% 14% 14% 13% 15% 16%
Table 14b: Sample size
Source: Family Resources Survey
Group 1994-97 1995-98 1996-99 1997-00 1998-01 1999-02 2000-03 2001-04 2002-05 2003-06 2004-07 2005-08 2006-09 2007-10 2008-11 2009-12 2010-13 2011-14 2012-15 2013-16 2014-17 2015-18 2016-19 2017-20 2018-21 2019-22 2020-23
Working-age adults 6,205 6,129 5,809 5,759 5,727 6,101 8,251 10,399 12,170 11,917 11,315 11,108 10,812 10,774 10,526 9,767 8,854 7,834 7,432 7,003 6,854 6,647 6,808 6,661 4,457 3,518 2,832

Food security

More than one third of working-age adults in poverty live in households lacking high food security

Food security is measured at a household level. The person in the household who knows most about buying and preparing food responds to the questions about food security. Note that not everyone in the household may experience this in the same way. For example, a parent may have worried about running out of food or reduced their own meal sizes, but protected their young children from this experience.

In 2020-23, 83% of working-age adults lived in households with high food security. This means that 17% of working-age adults lived in households with marginal, low or very low food security.

Working-age adults in poverty were less likely to have high food security: just 63% of those in relative poverty, and 66% of those in severe poverty lived in high food security households.

People are in severe poverty when their household income is less than half of the UK median income.

Household food security questions were newly added to the Family Resources Survey in 2019/20. They ask about whether people were worried about running out of food, had to reduce meal sizes or skip meals. More information can be found in the Definitions section.

Table 15a: Levels of food security of all working-age adults and those in poverty after housing costs, Scotland 2020-23
Source: Family Resources Survey
Group High Marginal Low Very low
All working-age adults 83% 6% 4% 6%
In relative poverty 63% 12% 10% 14%
In severe poverty 66% 9% 11% 14%
Table 15b: Sample size
Source: Family Resources Survey
Group Sample
All working-age adults 2,803
In relative poverty 587
In severe poverty 429

Pensioners

Pensioners are adults who have reached their state pension age.

Women’s state pension age reached 65 in November 2018, aligning it with men’s state pension age. Since December 2018, the state pension age for both men and women has been increasing. In the latest data period included in this report, the State Pension age for both men and women increased to 66 years.

Relative poverty

Relative poverty rate for pensioners stable

The relative poverty rate after housing costs for pensioners was 15% in 2020-23, or 150,000 pensioners each year. The poverty rate has been consistently below that for working-age adults (21%) and children (24%).

Before housing costs, 17% of pensioners (170,000 pensioners) were in relative poverty.

Relative pensioner poverty after housing costs showed a long decline until 2008-11, was then largely stable for a few years before it started to rise again. In recent years, since 2015-18, relative pensioner poverty has been largely stable.

Note that for pensioners, the before-housing-cost poverty rates are higher than the after-housing-costs poverty rates. This is because the majority of pensioners tend to have a relatively low income but also low housing costs as they own their home. It is therefore more meaningful to use the after-housing-costs poverty measure for comparing the standard of living between pensioners and other age groups.

Add confidence intervals by clicking on the greyed-out parts of the legend.

Table 16a: Proportion of pensioners in relative poverty, Scotland
Source: Family Resources Survey
Measure 1994-97 1995-98 1996-99 1997-00 1998-01 1999-02 2000-03 2001-04 2002-05 2003-06 2004-07 2005-08 2006-09 2007-10 2008-11 2009-12 2010-13 2011-14 2012-15 2013-16 2014-17 2015-18 2016-19 2017-20 2018-21 2019-22 2020-23
After housing costs 31% 31% 29% 28% 27% 26% 25% 23% 20% 17% 16% 15% 14% 13% 12% 12% 12% 12% 12% 12% 13% 15% 15% 14% 14% 15% 15%
Before housing costs 28% 27% 27% 26% 26% 24% 23% 22% 22% 20% 19% 20% 19% 18% 16% 16% 15% 15% 15% 16% 17% 18% 18% 17% 16% 16% 17%
Table 16b: Sample size
Source: Family Resources Survey
Group 1994-97 1995-98 1996-99 1997-00 1998-01 1999-02 2000-03 2001-04 2002-05 2003-06 2004-07 2005-08 2006-09 2007-10 2008-11 2009-12 2010-13 2011-14 2012-15 2013-16 2014-17 2015-18 2016-19 2017-20 2018-21 2019-22 2020-23
Pensioners 2,322 2,189 2,082 2,039 2,131 2,252 3,111 4,060 4,828 4,778 4,538 4,504 4,461 4,469 4,471 4,134 3,756 3,296 3,172 3,096 3,039 3,057 3,052 3,035 2,003 1,744 1,594

Absolute poverty

Absolute poverty rate for pensioners gradually decreasing

Absolute poverty after housing costs for pensioners was 10% (100,000 pensioners each year) in 2020-23. Before housing costs, it was 13% (130,000 pensioners).

Absolute poverty had remained broadly stable between 2008-11 and 2016-19, following a continuous decrease since the nineties, when reporting began. In recent years, absolute pensioner poverty has gradually decreased.

Table 17a: Proportion of pensioners in absolute poverty, Scotland
Source: Family Resources Survey
Measure 1994-97 1995-98 1996-99 1997-00 1998-01 1999-02 2000-03 2001-04 2002-05 2003-06 2004-07 2005-08 2006-09 2007-10 2008-11 2009-12 2010-13 2011-14 2012-15 2013-16 2014-17 2015-18 2016-19 2017-20 2018-21 2019-22 2020-23
After housing costs 53% 50% 46% 42% 39% 34% 31% 28% 24% 20% 17% 16% 14% 12% 12% 12% 12% 12% 12% 11% 11% 12% 12% 12% 11% 10% 10%
Before housing costs 54% 51% 47% 44% 40% 36% 31% 28% 26% 23% 21% 21% 19% 17% 16% 16% 16% 16% 15% 15% 14% 14% 14% 14% 13% 12% 13%
Table 17b: Sample size
Source: Family Resources Survey
Group 1994-97 1995-98 1996-99 1997-00 1998-01 1999-02 2000-03 2001-04 2002-05 2003-06 2004-07 2005-08 2006-09 2007-10 2008-11 2009-12 2010-13 2011-14 2012-15 2013-16 2014-17 2015-18 2016-19 2017-20 2018-21 2019-22 2020-23
Pensioners 2,322 2,189 2,082 2,039 2,131 2,252 3,111 4,060 4,828 4,778 4,538 4,504 4,461 4,469 4,471 4,134 3,756 3,296 3,172 3,096 3,039 3,057 3,052 3,035 2,003 1,744 1,594

Material deprivation

Pensioners in material deprivation gradually decreasing

In 2020-23, 6% of pensioners were in material deprivation. It is thought around 60,000 are in material deprivation each year.

Whilst the latest estimate is an increase on the previous period, there has been a long term decline in pensioner material deprivation since 2009-12. Similar to child material deprivation, recent trends should be treated with caution due to the impact of the pandemic and the sorts of activities people could do and how respondents answered the material deprivation questions.

Pensioner material deprivation is different to other measures of poverty, including the child low income and material deprivation measure. It does not only consider low income. It also captures other barriers to accessing goods and services, such as poor health, disability and social isolation. More information about pensioner material deprivation can be found in the Definitions section.

Pensioner material deprivation is included for all pensioners aged 65 or over. There were some pensioners in the analysis who were younger than 65; these were not included. Therefore, this measure looks at a slightly smaller group of people than the other measures in the Pensioners section.

Table 18a: Proportion of pensioners aged 65 and over in material deprivation, Scotland
Source: Family Resources Survey
Group 2009-12 2010-13 2011-14 2012-15 2013-16 2014-17 2015-18 2016-19 2017-20 2018-21 2019-22 2020-23
Pensioners aged 65 and over 8% 8% 8% 8% 7% 6% 6% 5% 5% 5% 4% 6%
Table 18b: Sample size
Source: Family Resources Survey
Group 2009-12 2010-13 2011-14 2012-15 2013-16 2014-17 2015-18 2016-19 2017-20 2018-21 2019-22 2020-23
Pensioners aged 65 and older 3,497 3,257 2,931 2,886 2,872 2,859 2,939 2,991 3,014 2,000 1,744 1,594

Food security

Pensioners usually live in households with high food security

Food security is measured at a household level. The person in the household who knows most about buying and preparing food responds to the questions about food security. Note that not everyone in the household may experience this in the same way.

In 2020-23, 95% of pensioners lived in households with high food security. This means that 5% of pensioners lived in households with marginal, low or very low food security.

Pensioners in poverty were slightly less likely to have high food security: 92% of those in relative poverty, and in severe poverty lived in high food security households.

People are in severe poverty when their household income is less than half of the UK median income.

Household food security questions were newly added to the Family Resources Survey in 2019/20. They ask about whether people were worried about running out of food, had to reduce meal sizes or skip meals. More information can be found in the Definitions section.

Table 19a: Levels of food security of all pensioners and those in poverty after housing costs, Scotland 2020-23
Source: Family Resources Survey
Group High Marginal Low Very low
All pensioners 95% 3% 1% 1%
In relative poverty 92% 5% 1% 2%
In severe poverty 92% 6% 1% 2%
Table 19b: Sample size
Source: Family Resources Survey
Group Sample
All pensioners 1,593
In relative poverty 250
In severe poverty 137

Equality analysis

Poverty is measured at a household level. Everyone in the same household is considered either in poverty or not in poverty. This makes it difficult to measure the poverty risk by individual characteristics such as age or gender for people who share the households with others.

For most characteristics in this section, we include everyone in the analysis, but keep in mind that the poverty risk is influenced by others in the household.

Note that estimates in this section tend to fluctuate, because some groups are smaller and have small sample sizes. This means that we can comment on consistent differences between groups, but any short-term changes over time are hidden in the fluctuations.

Age

The age analysis looks at the age of the head of the household. Poverty rates refer to the proportion of people in households by age of the household head.

Working-age households

Relative poverty rates highest for the youngest households

In the last 15 years, the youngest households (household heads aged 16-24) have been consistently more likely to be in relative poverty compared to older households. Figure 20 shows that in 2020-23, 39% of people in households in this group were in relative poverty after housing costs.

In comparison, the age groups 25-34, 35-44, 45-54 and 55-64 all had similar (and lower) poverty rates between 17% and 23%.

Table 20a: Proportion of people in relative poverty after housing costs, Scotland
Source: Family Resources Survey
Group 1994-97 1995-98 1996-99 1997-00 1998-01 1999-02 2000-03 2001-04 2002-05 2003-06 2004-07 2005-08 2006-09 2007-10 2008-11 2009-12 2010-13 2011-14 2012-15 2013-16 2014-17 2015-18 2016-19 2017-20 2018-21 2019-22 2020-23
16-24 25% 25% 27% 28% 30% 28% 27% 27% 29% 30% 28% 30% 30% 33% 32% 29% 32% 32% 33% 28% 29% 31% 31% 29% 27% 36% 39%
25-34 27% 26% 27% 27% 29% 27% 26% 24% 24% 22% 21% 20% 20% 21% 20% 19% 19% 19% 20% 22% 24% 24% 22% 22% 23% 20% 19%
35-44 23% 24% 22% 21% 22% 23% 22% 20% 18% 18% 19% 19% 19% 19% 19% 17% 17% 18% 19% 20% 18% 18% 16% 18% 19% 17% 17%
45-54 14% 13% 13% 14% 15% 16% 17% 17% 17% 16% 16% 16% 16% 17% 16% 15% 15% 15% 15% 15% 16% 17% 18% 18% 17% 21% 21%
55-64 17% 19% 21% 20% 21% 22% 22% 22% 21% 19% 18% 17% 16% 16% 16% 16% 16% 17% 17% 18% 18% 19% 18% 19% 19% 22% 23%
Table 20b: Sample size
Source: Family Resources Survey
Group 1994-97 1995-98 1996-99 1997-00 1998-01 1999-02 2000-03 2001-04 2002-05 2003-06 2004-07 2005-08 2006-09 2007-10 2008-11 2009-12 2010-13 2011-14 2012-15 2013-16 2014-17 2015-18 2016-19 2017-20 2018-21 2019-22 2020-23
16-24 1,139 1,133 1,071 1,038 1,032 1,077 1,434 1,765 2,061 2,065 1,922 1,885 1,757 1,776 1,742 1,603 1,411 1,161 1,119 1,020 1,027 912 922 808 535 318 230
25-34 1,572 1,523 1,396 1,325 1,251 1,260 1,637 2,017 2,377 2,321 2,178 2,039 1,945 1,961 1,940 1,819 1,682 1,540 1,474 1,353 1,297 1,200 1,250 1,210 841 626 520
35-44 1,408 1,398 1,344 1,373 1,372 1,453 1,993 2,571 3,010 2,860 2,713 2,651 2,609 2,483 2,336 2,117 1,885 1,652 1,489 1,382 1,335 1,280 1,288 1,230 824 675 533
45-54 1,131 1,130 1,108 1,117 1,141 1,283 1,777 2,198 2,535 2,482 2,411 2,464 2,488 2,509 2,495 2,314 2,134 1,855 1,770 1,667 1,594 1,543 1,546 1,492 970 714 576
55-64 1,047 1,025 989 1,012 1,034 1,125 1,559 2,048 2,456 2,442 2,356 2,317 2,289 2,323 2,295 2,149 1,909 1,723 1,645 1,593 1,584 1,616 1,655 1,692 1,118 976 766

Pensioner households

Poverty rates similar among pensioner age groups

Older households tend to have lower poverty rates compared to working-age households. There were no marked differences between households with heads aged 65-74, 75-84, and 85 and older.

Table 21a: Proportion of people in relative poverty after housing costs, Scotland
Source: Family Resources Survey
Group 1994-97 1995-98 1996-99 1997-00 1998-01 1999-02 2000-03 2001-04 2002-05 2003-06 2004-07 2005-08 2006-09 2007-10 2008-11 2009-12 2010-13 2011-14 2012-15 2013-16 2014-17 2015-18 2016-19 2017-20 2018-21 2019-22 2020-23
65-74 27% 27% 26% 26% 25% 24% 24% 22% 19% 15% 14% 14% 13% 12% 11% 12% 12% 11% 11% 11% 11% 12% 12% 13% 14% 16% 16%
75-84 39% 38% 36% 32% 30% 28% 26% 24% 22% 20% 18% 18% 16% 14% 12% 12% 12% 12% 12% 13% 16% 19% 19% 17% 16% 17% 17%
85+ 32% 33% 33% 31% 28% 29% 29% 27% 23% 19% 19% 18% 16% 14% 13% 13% 15% 16% 18% 18% 17% 17% 15% 16% 16% 13% 13%
Table 21b: Sample size
Source: Family Resources Survey
Group 1994-97 1995-98 1996-99 1997-00 1998-01 1999-02 2000-03 2001-04 2002-05 2003-06 2004-07 2005-08 2006-09 2007-10 2008-11 2009-12 2010-13 2011-14 2012-15 2013-16 2014-17 2015-18 2016-19 2017-20 2018-21 2019-22 2020-23
65-74 1,139 1,079 1,011 958 976 1,026 1,447 1,832 2,133 2,078 1,976 1,955 1,924 1,894 1,926 1,790 1,716 1,550 1,521 1,509 1,514 1,562 1,598 1,597 1,063 969 908
75-84 670 623 612 594 633 664 900 1,244 1,513 1,546 1,434 1,419 1,377 1,360 1,333 1,228 1,100 986 967 974 946 954 980 1,014 691 605 558
85+ 193 194 167 162 187 207 276 328 373 363 347 362 350 380 375 365 315 283 292 297 299 302 282 303 197 178 145

Gender

In 2020-23, 19% of women and 20% of men were in relative poverty after housing costs.

Poverty is measured at a household level. This means that men and women in the same household are both either in poverty or not in poverty. In the analysis below, we therefore only include single adult households (with or without dependent children).

In 2020-23, the relative poverty rate after housing costs for single adults (working-age and pensioners) was 27%, higher than for the total adult population (20%).

Single working-age adults and gender

Relative poverty rates converging for single household types

Rates have been historically highest for single mothers but have gradually declined to be comparable with other single household types. In the most recent period, poverty rates were highest single childless men (33%, 90,000). The poverty rate for single childless women and single mothers was the same at (29%). Estimates for single fathers are not available due to small sample sizes.

In this publication, ‘child’ refers to a dependent child living in the household. This is explained in the Definitions section.

Table 22a: Proportion of single working-age adults in relative poverty after housing costs, Scotland
Source: Family Resources Survey
Group 1994-97 1995-98 1996-99 1997-00 1998-01 1999-02 2000-03 2001-04 2002-05 2003-06 2004-07 2005-08 2006-09 2007-10 2008-11 2009-12 2010-13 2011-14 2012-15 2013-16 2014-17 2015-18 2016-19 2017-20 2018-21 2019-22 2020-23
Single mother 64% 63% 63% 60% 58% 55% 52% 52% 49% 47% 46% 47% 47% 45% 40% 36% 32% 33% 35% 38% 41% 39% 37% 38% 40% 36% 29%
Single man, no children 39% 39% 40% 39% 41% 41% 39% 37% 35% 34% 33% 32% 33% 34% 35% 34% 35% 35% 35% 34% 33% 32% 33% 34% 36% 36% 33%
Single woman, no children 32% 31% 29% 29% 33% 33% 34% 31% 32% 28% 27% 29% 29% 29% 27% 29% 29% 33% 34% 34% 32% 30% 28% 27% 26% 30% 29%
Single father -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --
Table 22b: Sample size
Source: Family Resources Survey
Group 1994-97 1995-98 1996-99 1997-00 1998-01 1999-02 2000-03 2001-04 2002-05 2003-06 2004-07 2005-08 2006-09 2007-10 2008-11 2009-12 2010-13 2011-14 2012-15 2013-16 2014-17 2015-18 2016-19 2017-20 2018-21 2019-22 2020-23
Single mother 478 452 398 408 410 449 602 779 904 848 781 764 771 771 734 687 656 615 587 509 461 421 423 425 282 218 144
Single man, no children 579 582 551 548 548 596 793 1,061 1,280 1,323 1,276 1,244 1,224 1,232 1,204 1,136 998 918 857 858 820 837 803 792 497 449 406
Single woman, no children 449 420 421 451 500 519 685 844 1,017 989 968 924 893 892 877 859 753 701 656 677 661 664 716 769 541 483 434
Single father 43 38 34 22 29 32 47 66 74 73 60 60 50 44 46 58 61 54 41 32 36 33 41 33 26 16 11

Single pensioners and gender

Relative poverty rates similar for male and female pensioners

In 2020-23, 23% of single female pensioners (60,000 women each year) and 16% of single male pensioners (number not available) were in relative poverty after housing costs. Note that there were too few single male pensioners in poverty in the sample to produce a robust population estimate.

In most years, the poverty rate after housing costs for single female pensioners had been higher than that for single male pensioners.

Table 23a: Proportion of single pensioners in relative poverty after housing costs, Scotland
Source: Family Resources Survey
Group 1994-97 1995-98 1996-99 1997-00 1998-01 1999-02 2000-03 2001-04 2002-05 2003-06 2004-07 2005-08 2006-09 2007-10 2008-11 2009-12 2010-13 2011-14 2012-15 2013-16 2014-17 2015-18 2016-19 2017-20 2018-21 2019-22 2020-23
Single male pensioner 33% 40% 42% 42% 34% 28% 22% 20% 17% 14% 14% 14% 14% 14% 14% 14% 13% 12% 10% 10% 12% 13% 15% 17% 19% 18% 16%
Single female pensioner 45% 44% 43% 39% 38% 36% 34% 30% 25% 21% 19% 20% 17% 16% 14% 14% 14% 15% 18% 20% 19% 19% 18% 20% 19% 23% 23%
Table 23b: Sample size
Source: Family Resources Survey
Group 1994-97 1995-98 1996-99 1997-00 1998-01 1999-02 2000-03 2001-04 2002-05 2003-06 2004-07 2005-08 2006-09 2007-10 2008-11 2009-12 2010-13 2011-14 2012-15 2013-16 2014-17 2015-18 2016-19 2017-20 2018-21 2019-22 2020-23
Single male pensioner 286 275 236 235 259 284 378 506 604 617 564 561 520 509 507 512 512 469 458 443 463 470 511 525 368 318 290
Single female pensioner 927 847 820 783 789 824 1,160 1,506 1,739 1,709 1,624 1,642 1,561 1,555 1,549 1,417 1,260 1,071 1,029 996 922 913 890 930 620 575 529

Estimates for all men and women (whether in single, couple or other households) are available in the associated tables.

Sexual orientation

Relative poverty rates higher for LGB+ adults

The poverty rate has been consistently higher for LGB+ adults compared to straight / heterosexual adults. In 2020-23, 25% of LGB+ adults (number not available) were in poverty, compared to 19% of straight adults (550,000 adults) and 21% of adults whose sexual orientation we don’t know (280,000 adults).

Note that there were too few LGB+ adults in poverty in the sample to produce a robust estimate of their population. Also, measurement uncertainty is quite wide for this group.

We included the ‘Missing’ category in the tables because it contains a fairly large number of adults. This group contains adults who were not asked the question because they weren’t present at the interview. It also includes adults who chose not to answer the question.

LGB+ adults in this analysis are those adults who responded that they thought of themselves as gay, lesbian, bisexual or something other than straight or heterosexual.

Table 24a: Proportion of adults in relative poverty after housing costs, Scotland
Source: Family Resources Survey
Group 2011-14 2012-15 2013-16 2014-17 2015-18 2016-19 2017-20 2018-21 2019-22 2020-23
LGB+ 27% 22% 22% 21% 23% 23% 24% 26% 27% 25%
Heterosexual / straight 18% 18% 18% 19% 19% 19% 19% 19% 20% 19%
(Missing) 13% 13% 14% 14% 16% 15% 15% 14% 17% 21%
Table 24b: Median age
Source: Family Resources Survey
Group 2011-14 2012-15 2013-16 2014-17 2015-18 2016-19 2017-20 2018-21 2019-22 2020-23
LGB+ 40 39 37 37 36 37 37 37 38 38
Heterosexual / straight 49 50 50 51 51 52 52 53 53 53
(Missing) 39 38 37 37 37 38 38 38 41 42

Marital status

Relative poverty rates highest for single, divorced & separated, and lowest for married adults

In 2020-23, the relative poverty rate after housing costs was highest for single adults (30%, 290,000 adults each year) and divorced (or separated) adults (28%, 90,000). Married and cohabiting adults were the least likely to be in poverty (15%, 16% ; 330,000 and NA) with widowed being in the middle (20% and 50,000).

Poverty among widowed and divorced/separated adults largely decreased over the long term, whereas the trend for singles, cohabiting and married adults was broadly flat over time.

By ‘Single’ we mean adults who have never been married or in a Civil Partnership, and are not living with their partner. The ‘Married’ category includes Civil Partnerships, and couples who are married or in a Civil Partnership but temporarily living apart. The ‘Divorced’ category includes divorced couples, dissolved Civil Partnerships, and couples who are married or in a Civil partnership but are not living together because of estrangement.

Table 25a: Proportion of adults in relative poverty after housing costs, Scotland
Source: Family Resources Survey
Group 1994-97 1995-98 1996-99 1997-00 1998-01 1999-02 2000-03 2001-04 2002-05 2003-06 2004-07 2005-08 2006-09 2007-10 2008-11 2009-12 2010-13 2011-14 2012-15 2013-16 2014-17 2015-18 2016-19 2017-20 2018-21 2019-22 2020-23
Divorced 40% 37% 38% 38% 41% 41% 40% 38% 34% 30% 28% 29% 29% 28% 27% 26% 25% 26% 27% 27% 27% 26% 25% 27% 28% 31% 28%
Widowed 37% 38% 37% 34% 31% 28% 27% 24% 21% 17% 17% 17% 16% 15% 13% 13% 12% 14% 16% 18% 18% 19% 17% 19% 19% 21% 20%
Cohabiting 24% 23% 21% 22% 21% 20% 19% 18% 20% 19% 19% 20% 19% 20% 17% 17% 17% 17% 18% 19% 20% 21% 20% 19% 18% 17% 16%
Single 23% 23% 24% 24% 27% 26% 26% 25% 26% 26% 26% 26% 26% 27% 27% 26% 27% 28% 28% 26% 26% 28% 27% 27% 26% 31% 30%
Married 16% 16% 15% 15% 15% 16% 16% 15% 14% 13% 13% 12% 12% 11% 12% 12% 12% 11% 11% 11% 12% 12% 13% 13% 13% 14% 15%
Table 25b: Sample size
Source: Family Resources Survey
Group 1994-97 1995-98 1996-99 1997-00 1998-01 1999-02 2000-03 2001-04 2002-05 2003-06 2004-07 2005-08 2006-09 2007-10 2008-11 2009-12 2010-13 2011-14 2012-15 2013-16 2014-17 2015-18 2016-19 2017-20 2018-21 2019-22 2020-23
Divorced 959 952 885 899 916 1,025 1,392 1,795 2,072 1,996 1,897 1,917 1,982 1,979 1,923 1,753 1,587 1,413 1,334 1,258 1,206 1,213 1,268 1,297 859 731 610
Widowed 1,212 1,120 1,045 1,023 1,074 1,141 1,522 1,913 2,214 2,164 1,985 1,951 1,823 1,831 1,774 1,631 1,438 1,251 1,190 1,168 1,116 1,114 1,089 1,119 757 664 556
Cohabiting 594 630 670 708 766 806 1,172 1,560 1,932 1,968 1,954 1,972 1,976 2,054 2,124 2,034 1,896 1,784 1,788 1,740 1,630 1,630 1,646 1,632 1,056 830 686
Single 2,305 2,318 2,242 2,211 2,207 2,287 3,078 3,920 4,674 4,641 4,367 4,244 4,109 4,142 4,090 3,871 3,497 3,071 2,926 2,780 2,745 2,563 2,595 2,496 1,670 1,309 1,112
Married 7,052 6,800 6,382 6,184 6,092 6,478 8,890 11,190 13,064 12,744 12,222 11,988 11,674 11,414 11,186 10,226 9,364 8,246 7,866 7,438 7,428 7,328 7,492 7,236 4,850 3,884 3,230

Ethnicity

Ethnicity data relates to all people in a household and is based on the ethnicity of the adult with the highest income.

Relative poverty rates higher for ethnic minorities

Over the five year period 2018-23, people from non-white minority ethnic groups were more likely to be in relative poverty after housing costs compared to those from the ‘White - British’ and ‘White - Other’ groups.

The poverty rate was 50% for the ‘Asian or Asian British’ ethnic groups and 51% for ‘Mixed, Black or Black British and Other’ ethnic groups (no population estimates available due to the small sample).

The poverty rate amongst the ‘White - Other’ group was 22% (80,000 people) and that of the ‘White - British’ group was 18% (840,000 people).

This analysis doesn’t take into account differences in the age profiles of the ethnic groups.

For the ‘White - British’ ethnic group the median average age of the highest income earner was 55, compared with a median age of 38 for the ‘White - Other’ ethnic group, 39 for ‘Asian or Asian British’ and 36 for ‘Mixed, Black, Black British or Other’ ethnic groups.

Older people have a lower poverty rate, so the age profile partly explains the lower poverty rate for the ‘White - British’ ethnic group. However, the age difference cannot explain the entire gap in poverty rates between ethnic groups.

The ONS working paper on ‘Equality across different areas of life in the UK’ has more information on how age may partly explain different outcomes for different ethnic groups.

Table 26a: Proportion of people in relative poverty after housing costs, Scotland 2018-23
Source: Family Resources Survey
Group 2001-06 2002-07 2003-08 2004-09 2005-10 2006-11 2007-12 2008-13 2009-14 2010-15 2011-16 2012-17 2013-18 2014-19 2015-20 2016-21 2017-22 2018-23
Mixed, Black or Black British, and Other 39% 35% 36% 35% 37% 35% 36% 35% 36% 33% 35% 36% 40% 40% 43% 44% 48% 51%
Asian or Asian British 37% 35% 36% 37% 42% 42% 42% 42% 39% 36% 35% 36% 34% 39% 41% 42% 49% 50%
White - Other 24% 23% 23% 22% 23% 24% 25% 25% 27% 27% 26% 25% 26% 25% 24% 24% 23% 22%
White - British 20% 19% 19% 18% 18% 17% 17% 17% 17% 17% 17% 18% 18% 18% 18% 18% 18% 18%
Table 26b: Median age of household head
Source: Family Resources Survey
Group 2001-06 2002-07 2003-08 2004-09 2005-10 2006-11 2007-12 2008-13 2009-14 2010-15 2011-16 2012-17 2013-18 2014-19 2015-20 2016-21 2017-22 2018-23
Mixed, Black or Black British, and Other 38 39 39 38 38 39 37 35 35 35 35 36 37 38 38 39 41 39
Asian or Asian British 38 38 39 39 39 38 36 37 36 36 37 37 37 37 38 38 40 39
White - Other 43 44 43 42 42 42 41 40 39 37 36 36 35 35 36 36 37 38
White - British 50 50 50 50 51 51 51 51 52 52 52 53 53 54 54 54 55 55

More information on ethnicity data

Figure 26 shows an ethnicity breakdown based on an average of data from the past five years. This provides a reasonably detailed breakdown, whilst still using relatively recent data. A more detailed ethnicity breakdown using ten years of data was previously published.

Due to the small sample sizes for some of the ethnic groups, and the fact that ethnic composition of the population is not accounted for in the survey weighting process, estimates fluctuate between years and the measurement uncertainty is fairly large.

Religion

Data on religion is available for adults only, so this analysis does not include children.

Relative poverty rates higher for Muslims

Over the five year period 2018-23, Muslim adults were more likely to be in relative poverty (61%, 40,000 each year) than adults overall (19%), after housing costs were taken into account.

Of adults belonging to the Church of Scotland, 16% were in relative poverty after housing costs (160,000 adults each year), compared to 17% of Roman Catholic adults (90,000 adults) and adults of other Christian denominations (21%; 70,000 adults).

This analysis doesn’t take into account differences in the age profiles of the religions.

For adults belonging to the Church of Scotland, the median average age was 64. In contrast, the median age was 36 for Muslim adults, and 42 for adults belonging to no religion.

Older adults have a lower poverty rate, so age profile partly explains the lower poverty rate for adults belonging to the Church of Scotland. However, the age difference cannot explain the entire gap in poverty rates between religious groups.

Table 27a: Proportion of adults in relative poverty after housing costs, Scotland 2018-23
Source: Family Resources Survey
Group 2011-16 2012-17 2013-18 2014-19 2015-20 2016-21 2017-22 2018-23
Muslim 33% 37% 41% 49% 52% 56% 63% 61%
No religion 19% 20% 19% 19% 19% 19% 19% 18%
Roman Catholic 18% 19% 20% 19% 19% 19% 19% 17%
Other Christian 18% 18% 18% 19% 19% 19% 19% 21%
Other religion 18% 18% 19% 18% 21% 21% 27% 31%
Church of Scotland 14% 14% 14% 15% 15% 15% 16% 16%
Table 27b: Median age
Source: Family Resources Survey
Group 2011-16 2012-17 2013-18 2014-19 2015-20 2016-21 2017-22 2018-23
Muslim 32 32 33 35 36 37 36 35
No religion 39 40 40 40 41 41 41 42
Roman Catholic 47 48 48 48 48 49 50 51
Other Christian 51 50 50 50 49 49 51 52
Other religion 48 48 50 49 50 50 48 44
Church of Scotland 58 59 60 61 62 62 63 64

More information on religion data

Figure 27 shows an average for data from the past five financial years.

Due to the small sample sizes for some of the religious groups, and the fact that religious composition of the population is not accounted for in the survey weighting process, estimates fluctuate between years and the measurement uncertainty is fairly large.

Disability

Relative poverty rates higher where a household member is disabled

Poverty rates remain higher for households in which somebody is disabled compared to those where no-one is disabled. The gap between the two groups has remained fairly steady over the last few years albeit rates for the disabled group can fluctuate.

In 2020-23, the poverty rate after housing costs for people in households with a disabled person was 24% (560,000 people each year). This compares with 18% (560,000 people) in a household without disabled household members.