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Religion, spirituality and belief: demographics

The largest single religious group across Scotland is Christian followed by those reporting ‘no religion’. Population proportions and numbers for each Christian religion and each non-Christian religion separately are available as a table and chart from the 2011 census in the Scottish Government’s Equality evidence finder.

The 2011 census gives a useful table of ethnicity by religious groups, showing the strong patterning of religion by ethnic group. The full census table (available from the census data explorer as table DC2201SC) shows that while Sikhism and Hinduism are the main religions in Indian people, the majority of Pakistani and Bangladeshi people are Muslim. Over two thirds of Chinese people in Scotland report having no religion. Over three quarters of Polish people in Scotland are Roman Catholic, a higher proportion than for Irish people. Gypsies/Travellers are split between the Christian groups quite evenly: 19% report Church of Scotland, 16% Catholic and 15% other Christian. This evidence suggests that analyses of the effects of religion need to adjust for ethnicity, among other factors. The mapping of health data from religions to ethnicities may give more health information than either ethnicity or religion alone.

A further equality report from the 2011 census Analysis of Equality results from the 2011 census Part 2 (2015) contains a wealth of additional demographic information about religious and ethnic groups’ employment patterns, social class, education, housing and transport.

Please note: If you require the most up-to-date data available, please check the data sources directly as new data may have been published since these data pages were last updated. Although we endeavour to ensure that the data pages are kept up-to-date, there may be a time lag between new data being published and the relevant ScotPHO web pages being updated.

Page last updated: 14 September 2017

© Scottish Public Health Observatory 2014