Family of different generations

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The NHS Health Scotland Dimensions of Diversity report states:

‘Age is continuous between birth and death. There are, however, many ways in which society demarcates population groups by age. These include, for example, different stages of education, varying ages at which ‘adult’ activities are legally permitted and the state retirement age. Age is relative: 50 may be old in a population with low life expectancy. The experience of particular social roles or life stages can vary with age – for example, becoming a parent as a teenager or in one’s 40s. Cultural context also affects how age is perceived and the expectations of roles and treatment appropriate at different ages.’

Scottish Government Evidence Reviews

The Scottish Government have published a series of Equality Evidence Reviews, to inform the development of the public sectors equality outcomes. The reviews explore available evidence about the scale and severity of issues faced by people with protected characteristics, including age.


Demographic information on age is routinely collected in Scotland. The Dimensions of Diversity report sets out population profiles across age groups.

The Scottish Public Health Observatory’s webpages include key issues facing older people in Scotland and key issues facing children and young people in Scotland.     

Age Scotland's response to the Scottish Parliament's Finance Committee's investigation into demographic change, 2012 presents evidence on the impacts of Scotland's ageing population.

The Action for Children Scottish fact file (2009) is a reference tool and compilation of information about young people in Scotland.


Several policies address the needs of specific age groups, for example: 

  • Reshaping care for older people: a programme for change 2011-2021 provides a framework to address the challenges of supporting and caring for Scotland’s growing older population into the next decade and beyond.
  • ScotPHN (Scottish Public Health Network) produced a policy landscape review which maps out the key policies and strategies affecting the health of older people in Scotland.
  • The Scottish Government's Children and Young People Bill aims to ensure that children’s rights properly influence the design and delivery of policies and services. This will also support implementation of the principles of the Getting it right for every child (GIRFEC) approach.
  • Valuing Young People is a guide for professionals working with young people on the key policies and principles to refer to when designing services.

The Christie Commission Report, the NHS Healthcare Quality Strategy and Equally Well, are all relevant to this population group. For further information, visit our policy page.


The Equality Act 2010 provides a legal framework to protect the rights of individuals and advance equality of opportunity for all. There are nine ‘protected characteristics’ under the Act, one of which is age.

Direct and indirect age discrimination, harassment and victimisation are unlawful when providing services and when carrying out public functions. For more information about the ban on age discrimination, see the EHRC website

The Protection of Vulnerable groups (Scotland) Act 2007 sets out the legislation compelling governments to establish mechanisms to enhance protection of vulnerable people, including older adults and young people, from abuse and neglect.

Human rights

Age UK have produced a range of publications and reports on the rights of older people.

The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child states that children have rights to health and the highest quality health care available. Data protection, confidentiality and anonymity have the potential to clash with the rights of the child to their own privacy. These rights are summarised on the Scotland’s Commissioner for Children and Young People website.

Scottish Ministers have made a commitment to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and are taking forward a range of actions to make sure children’s rights are realised across Scotland.

Updated April 2015

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