Scottish Longitudinal Study
Development & Support Unit

Current Projects

Project Title:

Stability and change in ethnic groups in Scotland (Beta-test project)

Project Number:



Zhiqiang Feng (University of St Andrews)
Chris Dibben (University of Edinburgh)
Susan Carsley (National Records of Scotland)

Start Date:

3 February 2014


Since the ethnicity question was first introduced in the 1991 census the question has been revised in the 2001 and 2011 censuses. For example, there are in total of 14 ethnic groups listed in the 2001 census form there are 19 of them while in the 2011 census. The changes in the categories of ethnicity in the census form allow respondents to choose a different category which was not available before. Furthermore there is no clear guidance on how to answer the ethnicity question in the census form therefore the self-reported ethnicity is almost entirely subject to individuals’ interpretation of their identity.

It is thus essential to examine whether the ethnic categorisation in the SLS can be reliably used in research on ethnicity. Do people change their ethnicity each time they were asked? Which groups of people are more likely to change their ethnicity? This study will extend a previous project on examining the stability and change in ethnic groups in Scotland by including the 2011 census data into consideration. The previous study found that white, Indian, Pakistani and Chinese were very stable in reporting ethnicity from 1991 to 2001 but Other Asian, Black other and other were not. In this study we will analyse which groups are consistent in their reporting ethnicity and which groups are less consistent between 2001 and 2011. In addition we will analyse whether the consistency in reporting is associated with age, gender, country of birth, and other individual and household factors. We will also investigate changes in religion reporting as the 2011 census includes the identical religion question to 2001 census and provides an opportunity in comparing the religion reporting with that in the 2001 census.

Related Outputs (viewable on CALLS Hub):

Explore the variables held in the SLS data dictionary.

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