Rurality: introduction

Most of the Scottish land mass is rural, yet most of the population lives in urban areas. The health of populations is influenced by a wide range of factors, including the demographic structure, availability of housing and employment, crime and safety, accessibility of services, the physical environment and social networks. These in turn are systematically different between urban and rural areas. This section explores some of the urban and rural differences in Scotland as this is likely to have a profound influence on health and on the provision of health and social services.

The Scottish Government Urban / Rural Classification provides a standard definition of rural areas in Scotland and includes a 6-fold and 8-fold classification system. The 8-fold classification definitions are given in Table 1 below. Accessibility in this classification is defined by driving time, illustrating how important access to a car is in rural areas. The figure underneath the table shows where these areas are in Scotland.

Table 1: The Scottish Government 8-fold urban/rural classification.
Class Class Name Description
1 Large Urban Areas Settlements of 125,000 or more people.
2 Other Urban Areas Settlements of 10,000 to 124,999 people.
3 Accessible Small Towns Settlements of between 3,000 and 9,999 people and within 30 minutes drive of a settlement of 10,000 or more.
4 Remote Small Towns Settlements of between 3,000 and 9,999 people and with a drive time of between 30 and 60 minutes to a settlement of 10,000 or more.
5 Very Remote Small Towns Settlements of between 3,000 and 9,999 people and with a drive time of over 60 minutes to a settlement of 10,000 or more.
6 Accessible Rural Areas Areas with a population of less than 3,000 people, and within a 30 minute drive time of a settlement of 10,000 or more.
7 Remote Rural Areas Areas with a population of less than 3,000 people, and with a drive time of between 30 and 60 minutes to a settlement of 10,000 or more.
8 Very Remote Rural Areas Areas with a population of less than 3,000 people, and with a drive time of over 60 minutes to a settlement of 10,000 or more.

 

Scottish Government Urban/Rural Classification, 2013-2014, 8 Fold Classification