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Statistics in more details

Summary: Ethnic Group Demographics

Detailed population estimates by ethnic group are available through Scotland's 2011 Census.

  • The size of the minority ethnic population in 2011 was just over 200,000 or 4% of the total population of Scotland (based on the 2011 ethnicity classification); this has doubled since 2001 when just over 100,000 or 2% of the total population of Scotland (based on the 2001 ethnicity classification) were from a minority ethnic group.

  • The Asian population was the largest minority ethnic group (3% of the total population or 141,000 people) and has seen an increase of one percentage point (69,000) since 2001;

  • Just over 1% (1.2% or 61,000) of the population recorded their ethnic group as White: Polish. The cities of Edinburgh and Aberdeen had the highest proportions at 3% of their total population.

Source: 2011 Census: Release 2A (Published: 2013, NRS)



% of Total Population

% of Minority Ethnic


(rounded estimate)






Asian/Asian Scottish/Asian British




Caribbean or Black




Mixed/Multiple ethnic groups




Other ethnic group








All Minority Ethnic Population




All Population




Source: 2011 Census: Release 2A (Published: 2013, NRS)

Note: Figures rounded to nearest 1,000 and sums may not total exactly due to this rounding.



Minority ethnic groups by council area, Scotland, 2011

Minority ethnic groups by council area, Scotland, 2011

Source: 2011 Census: Release 2A (Published: 2013, NRS)

  • In Glasgow City, 12% of the population were from a minority ethnic group. In City of Edinburgh and Aberdeen City it was 8% and Dundee City it was 6%. These areas also saw the largest increases since 2001 in the proportion of their population who are from minority ethnic groups.

Source: 2011 Census: Release 2A (Published: 2013, NRS)

UK-wide comparison

Minority ethnic groups, Scotland and the UK, 2011

Source: Overview of Equality Results from 2011 Census Release 2 (Published: March 2014)

  • The 'Asian' group was the largest minority ethnic group in each of the UK nations. People who identified as one of the 'Asian' categories represented 2.7% of the Scottish population in 2011 compared to 1.4% in 2001.

  • People who identified as 'Asian' represented 7.7% of the population in England, 2.2% of the population in Wales, and 1.1% of the population in Northern Ireland in 2011.

  • Each minority ethnic group made up a larger proportion of the population in 2011 than in 2001; this was the case in Scotland and in all of the other UK nations.

Source: Overview of Equality Results from 2011 Census Release 2 (Published: March 2014)

Scotland’s Annual Population Survey

Population information on Scotland’s ethnic groups is also collected in the Annual Population Survey. The ethnicity question for Scotland was changed in the Labour Force Survey from April 2011 to bring it in line with the 2011 Scottish Census data collection.

  • In 2016, the employment rate for ethnic minorities was 57.6% (down 1.3 percentage points from 58.9% in 2015) compared to an employment rate of 73.7% for ethnic white people (up 0.1 percentage points), an employment rate gap of 16.2 percentage points.

  • Minority ethnic women had substantially lower employment rates in 2016 (45.0%) than white ethnic women (70.5%), whereas the employment rate for minority ethnic males (71.6%) was more similar to white ethnic males (77.1%).

  • Looking at the minority ethnic and white ethnic employment rates in 2016 broken down by age, the employment rate for ethnic minorities aged 16-24 was 38 percentage points lower than the white ethnic group of the same age. This employment rate gap decreased with age with the oldest age group (50-64) having higher employment rates in the minority ethnic group than in the white ethnic group.

Source: Regional Employment Patterns in Scotland: Statistics from the Annual Population Survey 2016 (Last updated: May 2017)


Useful Links

Ethnicity Page

Demographics Page

Ethnicity Census output

2011 Census output

Follow the links below to get Ethnicity related interactive maps, charts, and data tables from Release 2A of Scotland's 2011 Census:

  • Ethnic groups in Scotland, change between 2001 and 2011 - (Excel, csv, PDF)
  •  Ethnic groups in Scotland, 2011 (percentages)  – (Excel, csv, PDF)
  • White ethnic groups by council area, Scotland, 2011 - (Excel, csv, PDF)
  • Minority ethnic groups by council area, Scotland, 2011  - (Excel, csv, PDF)
  • Ethnicity at different output levels:
  •                   - Scotland (Excel, csv, PDF)

                      - Council Area (Excel, csv, PDF)

                      - Health Board (Excel, csv, PDF)

  • National level Ethnicity summary table:

                        - Ethnicity - (Excel, CSV, PDF)


Publications and Outputs

Publications and Outputs

NRS Scotland Statistics (NRS) A range of National statistics/Official publications are available on the National Records of Scotland website.

2011 Census Releases (NRS) A summary of the 2011 census releases, with links to statistical bulletins. Age and gender is covered in releases 1A and 1B. Disability, ethnicity and religion is covered in releases 2A. Further detailed breakdowns are provided in release 3

Scotland's Census 2011: Data Visualisation Tool (NRS) These interactive maps and charts let users explore council area ethnicity and religion statistics across Scotland.

Scottish Government Equality Outcomes: Ethnicity Evidence Review (2013) A comprehensive review of available evidence in relation to ethnicity.

Analysis of Equality Results from the 2011 Census: Part 2 (March 2015) Brings together relevant statistics from the census and other sources to paint a highly detailed picture of equality in Scotland. The policy areas covered are Labour Market, Education, Housing and Transport. The BSL section contains data by age.

Analysis of Equality Results from the 2011 Census: Part 1 (October 2014) Analysis of Equality Results from the 2011 Census, including Ethnicity, Gypsy/Travellers, Religion, Disability and BSL and contains data by age.

Overview of Equality Results from 2011 Census Release 2 (March 2014) This paper provides further analysis of equality data originally released from the Census by the National Records of Scotland (NRS). It pulls this together into a user friendly format providing new analysis and insight, particularly around deprivation. The main equality strands included in the paper are ethnicity, religion and disability.

Local Area Migration 2016 (NRS, August 2017) This tool gives access to migration data from a range of sources for council and NHS Board areas. Information is also available on the strengths and weaknesses of each data source, what each data source indicates, and links are provided for further information. Covers age, gender and ethnicity

Characteristics of migrants in Scotland: Analysis of the 2011 Census (October 2016) Compares characteristics (including Age) of migrants from European Economic Area (EEA) and non-EEA countries with the Scotland-born population and migrants from the rest of the UK.

External Links

External Links

Please note that you will leave the Scottish Government web site by clicking on any of the following links, and that the Scottish Government and its staff are not responsible for content external to this web site.

Office for National Statistics - Key Statistics and Quick Statistics for Local Authorities in the United Kingdom (2013) - This paper provides a comparison of 2011 Census results from Scotland, England and Wales, and Northern Ireland, includes ethnicity comparisons.

Migrant Roma in the UK - Research report - Researchers at Salford Housing and Urban Studies Unit have attempted to estimate the size of the Migrant Roma population in the UK. Their research suggests that Scotland has at least 3,000 migrant Roma individuals. UK level data indicates that the population of migrant Roma is predominantly urban and located in existing multi-ethnic areas.

The Economic and Social Research Council's Centre on Dynamics of Ethnicity (CoDE) has produced an excel-based interactive profiler tool that allows users to create tailored census analysis using England and Wales data.



Scotland's Census

National Records of Scotland - More up to date information is available, as well as data tables including time series information, from the National Records of Scotland website.

Scotland's Census Data Explorer - Download data, charts and tables from the 2011, 2001 and 1991 Censuses.

Scotland's Census Results 2011 - Download data tables from the most recent census releases.

Official Statistics

statistics.gov.scot - Explore, visualise and download over 200 datasets from a range of producers. Start browsing by theme, organisation, or geography. Or access programmatically using our APIs. A range of datasets are available that can be broken down by ethnic group


Future Developments

Future Developments

The main set of statistical outputs from Scotland’s Census 2011 have now been published and we are working through the requests received for commissioned outputs. For further information on submitting a request, visit the Commissioned Outputs page.

Planning has begun for Scotland’s Census 2021 and will build on the success of the census in 2011.

Select below for further information on:


Future publications




National Records of Scotland Customer Services: Statisticscustomerservices@nrscotland.gov.uk