Characteristics of migrants in Scotland: Analysis of the 2011 Census
First published March 2015; revised October 2016
This report presents analysis of data from the 2011 Census on the characteristics of migrants in Scotland. It is a revised version of a report published in March 2015. The original report focused on migrants born outside the UK, who were habitually resident in Scotland at the time of the Census in March 2011. This report extends the focus, where possible, to include people born elsewhere in the UK and living in Scotland. In addition, for comparison, it includes the Scotland-born population.
Unless otherwise stated, the analysis distinguishes between people born in Scotland; people born in the rest of the UK; people born in European Economic Area ( EEA) countries; and people born in non- EEA countries.
The topics covered by this report include personal and household characteristics as well as education, employment and health.
For this report, anyone not born in Scotland is classified as a migrant. The term 'migrant' therefore includes those born in the other countries of the UK; those who were born abroad to UK-born parents, but not people from minority ethnic backgrounds who were born in the UK (second or third generation migrants, for example).
The Scottish 2011 Census did not ask a question about nationality; therefore, it is not possible to ascertain whether or not non- UK born migrants are British citizens.
EEA migrants are those people, now resident in Scotland, who were born in one of the following countries: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Republic of Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden  .
The non- EEA category includes those not born in the UK and not born in an EEA country. It should be noted that Croatia was not an EEA country at the time of the Census, and so was classified as a non- EEA country for this analysis.
For the purpose of brevity and readability, throughout this report, those migrants who had lived in Scotland for less than 10 years up to the date of the Census are referred to as recent migrants and those having lived in Scotland for 10 years or longer are referred to as established migrants. This does not reflect a judgement about the length of residence required before a migrant should be considered established. The migrant groups include full-time students.
It should be noted that findings provide a snapshot of the migrant population at the time of the 2011 Census, but do not provide information on migration flows.
Outline of the report:
All figures are rounded, therefore not all proportions shown will add up to 100 per cent. Full tables are available on the Scottish Government website.
Number and origin of migrants and length of residence
- Over 369,000 people born outside the UK were resident in Scotland at the time of the 2011 Census, making up seven per cent of Scotland's total population. The majority (63 per cent) had arrived in Scotland since the 2001 Census.
- Almost 460,000 people living in Scotland had been born in England.
- The majority of recent EEA migrants were born in Poland (approximately 55,000 people).
- Half of all established migrants (those who had been living in Scotland for more than 10 years) had arrived when they were under 16 years of age. The majority of recent migrants had arrived between the ages of 16 and 34.
Personal and household characteristics
- Migrants tended to be younger than the population as a whole, and recent migrants were younger than established migrants.
- Across the Scotland-born population and all migrant groups, people were most likely to be living in two person households. Non- EEA migrant groups were the most likely to live in larger households (17 per cent of recent and established non- EEA migrants were living in households of five or more people).
- There was very little difference in the number of dependent children in households across the Scotland-born, rest of the UK-born and non- UK migrant populations.
- Non- EEA migrants were more ethnically and religiously diverse than EEA migrants.
- Established non- UK migrant groups were more diverse than recent migrants in terms of national identity.
- Across all the non- UK migrant groups, almost nine in ten reported that they could speak, read and write in English.
- Migrants who arrived at younger ages were more likely to have English language skills than those who arrived when they were older.
- More than 170 languages other than English were spoken in homes across Scotland.
Area and accommodation
- More than four in five of all non- UK migrants were living in urban areas, particularly Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen. Established migrants were more likely than recent migrants to live in rural areas.
- Over 30 per cent of migrants born in the rest of the UK were living in rural areas.
- Recent EEA and non- EEA migrants were the most likely to live in the most deprived areas. However, recent non- EEA migrants were also proportionately more likely than other non- UK migrant groups to live in the least deprived areas.
- Two-thirds of migrants born in the rest of the UK were living in the five least deprived area deciles.
- When time in the country was further disaggregated, non- UK migrants who arrived in the two years before the 2011 Census were found to be proportionately least likely to live in the most deprived areas and most likely to live in the least deprived areas. This finding is unexpected, and there is nothing in the profile of the recent non- UK migrant group that helps to indicate why this might be the case.
- More than half of recent non- UK migrants were living in rented accommodation. However, the tenure arrangements of established migrants were similar to those of the Scotland-born population and migrants born in the rest of the UK (approximately 70 per cent were home owners).
Education and employment
- Half of all non- UK migrants had at least degree level qualifications, compared with less than one in four of people born in Scotland and 41 per cent of people born in the rest of the UK.
- Recent EEA and non- EEA migrants were the least likely of the population groups to have no educational qualifications (approximately one in ten did not have such qualifications, compared with almost three in ten people born in Scotland).
- The majority of migrants aged 16 to 74 were economically active, with at least 50 per cent of each migrant group currently employed or self-employed. The highest percentage was among recent EEA migrants (72 per cent).
- Of those who were not in employment, the majority were students (in the recent migrant groups) and retired (those born in the rest of the UK and the established migrant groups).
- 30 per cent of recent EEA migrants were working in elementary occupations (compared with between 8 and 15 per cent of all other population groups)
- More than two-thirds of people with degree level qualifications who were born in Scotland, the rest of the UK and the non- UK established groups were in managerial and professional occupations. However, only 38 per cent of EEA recent and 55 per cent of non- EEA recent migrants with such qualifications were working in managerial and professional occupations.
- The vast majority of migrants reported good or very good general health (95 per cent of recent non- UK migrants; approximately 80 per cent of migrants from the rest of the UK and non- UK established groups).
- Established EEA migrants were the most likely to report a limiting long-term illness or disability. 24 per cent said their day-to-day activities were limited 'a little' or 'a lot' by such an illness or disability.