Research Potential

The dataset will be prepared for linkage to existing longitudinal studies, e.g. the Scottish Longitudinal Study (SLS), and more generally to the highly developed Scottish Health Informatics systems. This will allow the characteristics (place of birth, age at marriage, occupation, longevity, cause of death etc) of parents, grandparents and other relatives of individuals in the SLS or other studies to be analysed.  Such analysis will enhance contemporary Scottish and UK health datasets, health informatics systems, longitudinal datasets and genetic studies.

People surviving to have children, grandchildren and other descendents are unlikely to be fully representative of the historic population of Scotland; however by capturing records for all those who have registered vital events in Scotland, the project will enable partial as well as full life histories to be created.

For the first time the UK will have a data system of similar depth and breadth to those in Scandinavia and the Low Countries. In these countries, researchers using The Demographic Database in Sweden, the Historical Population Registers in Norway and the Historical Sample of the Netherlands are extending knowledge of demography and economic and social history over the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. For the UK, such a dataset creates the possibility of exploring the condition of the present Scottish population within the context of their families through multiple generations of micro-data.

Many new research opportunities are made available through the Digitising Scotland project:

Those working in social policy will benefit from a deeper understanding of:

  • social mobility across 150 years;
  • the impact of a developing welfare state;
  • the nature of industrialisation and its impact on populations; and
  • fertility.

Those working in educational policy will gain an insight into:

  • the impact of changing educational policy over 150 years.

Those working in public health will come to better understand:

  • the effect of food shortages for mothers during pregnancy on the later (intergenerational) health of the child;
  • the impact of urbanisation and severe environmental insults on health;
  • the long term effect of serious viruses (eg the 1918 influenza pandemic) on the surviving population.