Social aspects of living in Edinburgh



With a population around 450,000, Edinburgh is the second largest city in Scotland by population. It covers an area of over 25,900 hectares giving a population density of nearly 17 people per hectare. The ratio of males to females in Edinburgh is approximately 48% to 52%, the same as the Scottish national statistics figure. The proportion of 20 to 44 year olds in Edinburgh is significantly higher than the rest of Scotland. In Edinburgh the proportion is 42%, whereas nationally the figure is only 34%. The fact that over 9% of the city’s population is aged between 20 and 24 years, compared to a national figure of nearer 6%, can be explained to some extent by the city having four universities.

According to Scottish Government figures the housing profile of Edinburgh shows that there are nearly 213,000 domestic accommodation properties in the city. Of those only 40% of them are houses or bungalows and that only 11% of that housing stock are detached houses, which is significantly less than the national average at over 20%. The number of terraced houses in the city is 14%, slightly lower than the current national average figure of 20%. 55% of the population lives in a purpose built block of flats, or tenement, compared to a national figure of 33%. The remainder of the city’s population living in flats occupying buildings that are house conversions.

In terms of household composition the largest group in Edinburgh are those people that are single and live on their own, which is 50% of the city’s population. The national figure for Scotland as a whole is 33%. Correspondingly the percentage of married couples in Edinburgh is 38%, 7% lower than the national one. With the rest of the population being widowed or divorced. Socio-economically the national figure being categorised as social grade A or B is 19%; Edinburgh scores 27% and scores well compared to the national averages for social grades C1, C2 and D. For a city renowned for having at least half of its residents working in professional occupations or as senior management, the percentage of people classed as being social grade E is 17%, only 5% lower than the national average. However, less than 1% of those people are classed as long-term unemployed.

Regarding the health of Edinburgh’s residents, rather surprisingly 16% of the city’s residents consider themselves not to be in good health, the national average for this factor is only 10%. In terms of life expectancies, an Edinburgh male resident can expect to live on average for 76 years and a woman for just over 78 years, whereas the latest figures for Scotland as a nation are 75 and 80.

The city’s current concern about crime is perhaps a reflection on the relative wealth of the city’s residents, in that door-step crime is on the increase. The city comes under the Lothian and Borders police force, which includes places further south than Hawick  and as far west as Livingston. Edinburgh is in the ‘A’ Division of the forces area. However, the Scottish Government only releases official statistics for the police force rather than cities or divisions. Whilst 19% of all crime and offences committed in Scotland occur in the Lothian and Borders area, despite the level falling by 11% in recent years,  the level of crimes of dishonesty in the area give the most alarming statistics. 465 people in every 10,000 were the victim of a crime of dishonesty, compared to a national average of less than 369. However, not all the crime statistics for the Lothian and Borders are bad. For instance you could take comfort in the fact that of the eight Scottish police force areas there are three others have higher overall instances of crime per 10,000 head of population.

The benchmark qualification for Scottish schools is the attainment of level 5 in at least 5 subjects, or better, in the Scottish Standard Grade examinations. These exams are taken in the Scottish Secondary year 4 (S4) - 16 years of age.  The most recent figures available from the Scottish Government show that in recent years Edinburgh secondary schools have not performed as well as the Scottish average. Only 33% of pupils attained the benchmark level in the city, which despite showing some progress is still below the national average of attainment at 35%.

Edinburgh has four universities. Edinburgh University, established by Royal Charter in 1582, is the oldest university in the city and was infamously the place where Burke, with his accomplice Hare, would procure bodies for dissection in the medical school. Herriot-Watt University started out as the Edinburgh School of art in 1821. It became a university by Royal Charter in 1966.  Napier University is one of the newer ones, having received its charter in 1992, whist Queen Margaret University was created a full university as recently as 2007. According to the ‘Good Universities Guide’ (GUG) the universities are respectively placed: 16th, 44th, 71st and 58th out of over 100 UK universities.

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