Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Census 2011

Highland Council recently issued interim results of the 2011 census statistics, here.  Among these is an analysis by Community Council area, so it is possible to look at the figures for West Ardnamurchan and compare them against equivalent figures for the Highland Region and Scotland as a whole.

It is always interesting to look at such statistics, and to try to pick out areas where the West Ardnamurchan population and those of the larger areas differ.  It would also have been interesting to compare the figures against the 2001 census to see how things have changed, but Highland Council don't seem to have organised the earlier ones by Community Council area.  What follows is a selective analysis of the census results, in that it only highlights areas where there are significant differences between West Ardnamurchan, Highland as a whole, and the Scottish figures.

The total 2011 population for West Ardnamurchan is given as 313, and it is an older population when compared to Highland and Scotland, though the figures for those under 16 is comparable.  So 40% of West Ardnamurchan's population is over 60, compared to 26% and 23%, while 17% is under 16 compared to 18% and 17%.  It follows that the population is skewed towards older people and is low on people of working age.  This has implications for health services and for community development, in that the area needs its working population to develop the local economy.

74% reported that they owned the property in which they lived, as compared to 67% and 62%.  Far from suggesting that the area is unusually affluent, this may reflect a larger than usual group of better-off retired people and a lack of housing for rent.  14% reported that they did not own a car or van, compared to 21% and 31%. Again, this is less likely to be an indicator of wealth than the necessity of having a car to access services which are remote from the local community.

In general, the West Ardnamurchan population's reported health was as good as the Highland and Scottish populations both in the short and long term - in other words, we may have a slightly high proportion of older people, but they believe they are healthy.

64% reported their 'Identity' as 'White Scottish', low when compared to 80% and 84%, with 34% reporting their identity as 'White - Other British' (15% and 8%).  When asked their 'National Identity', 40% reported 'Scottish Identity Only' (62%, 62%), while 27% reported 'British Identity Only' (10%, 8%), and 15% reported 'Scottish and British Identities Only' (15%, 18%).  While these statistics are difficult to interpret, it does appear that, compared to the rest of Scotland, this area has a higher number of residents who perceive themselves primarily as British rather than Scottish.  This is reflected in the 'Country of Birth' statistics, with 58% of West Ardnamurchan being born in Scotland as compared with 77% and 83%.

The local population sees itself as more committed to a church than Highland and Scotland, with 64% professing a Christian religion compared to 53% and 54%.

The section on 'Economic Activity' is another area that is difficult to interpret in that the group that is reporting is aged '16 to 74'.  Of these, 59% are economically active compared to 72% in Highland and 69% across Scotland - but West Ardnamurchan's statistics are going to be skewed by its larger percentage of retired people.  In amongst the employment statistics is a significant one: 29% of local people aged 16 to 74 reported they worked 49 hours or more per week, compared to 16% and 12%, a statistic which seems to suggest that, to make ends meet, people here have to work very long hours.

Only one person reported that they did not speak English well, and 17% said they spoke Gaelic (5%, 1%).  Compared to Highland and Scotland, the local population is better educated. For example 38% said they had a qualification such as a degree, SQV level 5, or professional qualification (eg in nursing), compared to 26% and 26%.

The above is a sample of the wealth of figures available from the census.  The interpretations are the Diary's alone.

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