Income and employment: key points

  • Income and employment are, along with education, key social determinants of population health and health inequalities.
  • Good work can protect working-age adults against physical and mental health problems and reduce the risk of premature mortality.
  • However, some types of work can be actively harmful to the physical and mental health of workers and their families, due to job characteristics and because they substitute out-of-work poverty for in-work poverty.
  • In contrast to child and pensioner poverty (both of which have fallen over time), working-age poverty in Scotland has fluctuated without much change since 1994/95. In 2013/14, almost half of working-age Scottish adults in poverty lived in households where at least one adult was in employment.
  • There are substantial inequalities in income and employment in Scotland:
    • After adjusting for household size, weekly incomes in Scotland in 2013/14 (before housing costs) varied from £243 in the poorest households to £849 in the richest households.
    • In 2014, single parent, single adult and large family households were most likely, and pensioner households least likely, to report they did not manage well financially in Scotland.
    • Demand for labour was weakest for those looking for work in sales or elementary occupations and highest for caring occupations, professionals and associate professionals.
    • In 2013, labour market demand was weakest, and the proportion of people claiming out-of-work benefits, was highest in Ayrshire and Glasgow and the Clyde Valley. The reverse was the case in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire.
    • People working in certain jobs (e.g. customer services, the building trades) and certain industries (e.g. food and beverage services, transport and storage) are at greater risk of multiple disadvantage from a constellation of low pay, limited opportunities, lack of control and sometimes risky working conditions.

Section updates:

This section was re-named Income and employment in June 2015 (having previously been called Income and economy).

  • The last major update of this section was completed in March 2016.
  • The next major update is due to be carried out by end March 2017.