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 2015, worklessness was lowest in Aberdeen City and Shire and the Highlands and Islands, and highest in Glasgow and the Clyde Valley and Ayrshire.  
    • In the same year, demand for labour was strong in Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire.  In all other regions of Scotland, the number of unemployed people exceeded the number of vacancies, with demand especially weak in Ayshire, Dumfries and Galloway and Fife.
    • 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 June 2017.