Understanding migrant populations

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Co-financed by the European Fund for the Integration of Third Country Nationals

4. Understanding migrant populations

4.2 Sources of statistics

4.2.1 Data from NRS

NRS is one of the main sources of information on Scotland's population. The NRS website provides a range of population information, including estimates, projections at national and sub-Scotland level, as well as estimates of specific population groups. 

There is also a specific theme within the NRS website that covers migration. The NRS website provides a wealth of statistical information on migration, including information on:

  • total migration to and from an area;
  • migration within Scotland;
  • migration between Scotland and overseas; and
  • local area migration.

Click here to access this information from NRS.

NRS also produce area profiles that outline key statistical data and trends in relation to Scotland's 32 local authority areas, including information on local migrant populations.

Find out more...

NRS publishes a local area migration spreadsheet on its website which draws together various migration indicators, including their strengths and weaknesses.

NRS also has a useful interactive internal migration visualisation tool that provides visual information on population movements at local authority level in Scotland.

The Office of National Statistics (ONS) NOMIS service provides access to the most detailed and up to date UK labour market statistics at local authority level.

4.2.2 The Census

The population census is the most comprehensive source of data on characteristics of the population.  The census data can be used to help you plan ahead and also to inform key decisions about local service delivery, including healthcare, housing, schooling, and transport.  

The census information is free to use, and you can get started by going to the online guide to using Census data.  You can also visit Census Results, or use Census Data Explorer to obtain more information.

The Census Data Explorer can help you to explore the results from the 2011 Census using a topic-based approach. There is a wide range of information available within each topic, from simple (single variable) counts to complex cross-tabulations of variables. Interactive maps and charts and supporting information are available to help you understand the results.

Census Data Explorer allows you to do the following:

  • Area Profiles – to compare the characteristics of different areas across Scotland.
  • Maps and Charts – to view selected census results through interactive maps and charts.
  • Standard Outputs – to access and explore each of the 'standard' tables at a wide range of geographies, from national level right down to local level.
  • Supporting Information - to help you understand the data.

The links below provide information on some of the topics covered by the census results: 

However, a key weakness of the census data is that it can become outdated very quickly and is not suitable for measuring short term trends.  Other sources of data are therefore required to build a timely and comprehensive picture of migration.  This is covered in more detail in the section in this toolkit on understanding population profiles.     

4.2.3 Census commissioned output tables

NRS also provides a commissioned table service for Scotland’s Census 2011 data. This is available for customer requirements that are not met by the data provided in the published tables.  For example, we recently commissioned NRS to develop additional tables to improve the quality of data and information on migration and the population more generally.  

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You can find out more about the census and how to make best use of census information from a report that we have commissioned NRS to produce for the Migration Matters Scotland project.  The report will be available later this summer.  Check our website for updates.

More information about population and migration statistics can also be found on Scottish Government’s Website.

4.2.4 Census Analytical reports

More detailed investigations and analyses based on 2011 Census data can also be undertaken. These reports can provide further insight into what can be learned from the census data, and help to provide evidence for policy makers across Scotland and the UK.

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This report by Scottish Government on migrants in Scotland presents findings from an analysis of the 2011 Census on people resident in Scotland who were born in EEA and non-EEA countries.

It covers a range of topics, including country of origin and length of residence; personal and household characteristics (including language); area and accommodation; education and employment; and health.