1. Main findings

  • In 2014, 1.6% of adults in the UK identified their sexual identity as lesbian, gay or bisexual

  • The likelihood of an adult identifying as lesbian, gay or bisexual decreased with age. Around 2.6% of adults aged 16 to 24 years identified themselves as lesbian, gay or bisexual. This decreased to 0.6% of adults aged 65 and over

  • Around 0.5% of adults identified themselves as bisexual, with women (0.7%) being twice as likely as men to do so (0.3%)

  • London had the highest percentage of adults identifying themselves as lesbian, gay or bisexual, at 2.6%

  • The proportion of the UK adult population who smoked cigarettes fell between 2010 and 2014, from 21.0% to 18.3%

  • In 2014, men (20.7%) were more likely to be cigarette smokers than women (15.9%)

  • Scotland had the highest smoking rate in the UK (20.3%). England had the lowest smoking rate (18.0%)

  • The proportion who smoked cigarettes was highest amongst those working in routine and manual occupations (28.2%)

  • The proportion who smoked cigarettes was higher among adults who identified themselves as gay, lesbian or bisexual (25.3%) compared with those who identified themselves as heterosexual / straight (18.4%)

Back to table of contents

2. Introduction

This bulletin provides information from the January to December 2014 Integrated Household Survey (IHS). This year’s release focuses on sexual identity and cigarette smoking in the UK. For information on previous topics covered by IHS statistical bulletins, please visit the IHS release page.

A set of reference tables have been included in the data section of the publication to accompany each figure in this report. This allows further analysis of topics at a country level.

The IHS is the largest social survey undertaken by the Office for National Statistics (ONS). It provides estimates from approximately 325,000 individual respondents – the biggest pool of UK social survey data apart from the census.

The IHS sample size enables analysis at lower level geographies that cannot typically be obtained with other social surveys. The IHS is used by academics, government departments and other stakeholders to provide evidence for planning, policy and monitoring purposes. It specifically provides data on sexual identity and smoking prevalence to meet users’ needs.

Following a consultation in 2014, future releases of IHS estimates will appear on the Annual Population Survey. Further information on this can be found in the background notes.

At present, IHS statistics are designated as experimental. Information on what this means can be found in the background notes.

Back to table of contents

3. Sexual identity

The Integrated Household Survey (IHS) asks a question on self perceived sexual identity of adults in the UK. This question was developed as part of the ONS Sexual Identity Project, which developed, tested and implemented the question to satisfy the increasing demand for data on sexual orientation to meet the requirements of the Equality Act 2010. ONS focused on 1 component of sexual orientation, sexual identity, as this is the most relevant dimension of sexual orientation to investigate given its relation to experiences of disadvantage and discrimination.

In 2014, the IHS found 1.6% of adults identified themselves as lesbian, gay or bisexual (LGB). This comprised of:

  • 1.1% who identified as gay or lesbian

  • 0.5% who identified as bisexual

A further 0.3% of the population identified their sexual identity as “other”. These were adults who did not consider themselves to fall into the heterosexual / straight, gay / lesbian, or bisexual categories.

Figure 1 shows the full breakdown of self-reported sexual identity in the UK in 2014. More information on the types of non-response to this question can be found in the background notes.

Figure 2 illustrates how the size of the size of the LGB population has remained the same since 2013 (1.6%) and has experienced a small increase since 2010 (from 1.5%), although this increase was not statistically significant.

Sexual identity by age group

The likelihood of an adult identifying as LGB decreased with age. In 2014, 2.6% of adults aged 16 to 24 identified as LGB. This decreased to 0.6% of adults aged 65 and over. Figure 3 shows this pattern for 2014.

Sexual identity by gender

In 2014, twice as many men identified themselves as gay (1.5%) when compared with women who identified themselves as gay or lesbian (0.7%). By contrast, women were more than twice as likely to identify themselves as bisexual (0.7%) compared to men (0.3%). Figure 4 shows the size of the LGB population by gender in 2014.

Sexual identity by region

In 2014, London had the highest proportion of adults identifying themselves as LGB (2.6%). Differences between other regions of the UK were relatively small and mostly not statistically significant, with LGB identification ranging from 1.0% (East Midlands) to 1.8% (South East). Figure 5 shows this pattern for 2014.

Sexual identity by occupation

Figure 6 shows that adults in managerial and professional occupations were more likely to identify themselves as LGB (2.1%) than those in either intermediate occupations (1.3%) or routine and manual occupations (1.4%).

Back to table of contents

4. Smoking prevalence

The Intergrated Household Survey (IHS) collects information on smoking prevalence rates in the UK, focusing on use of tobacco-based cigarettes by adults aged 18 and over. This information is an important measure for monitoring tobacco use in the UK, with various initiatives in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland launched since 2011 aimed at reducing tobacco use. The term "cigarette smoker" is used in this report and refers to adults who stated they currently smoke cigarettes. The IHS does not collect or publish information on e-cigarettes.

In 2014, 18.3% of adults living in the UK were cigarette smokers. This continues a gradual decline seen since 2010 and fell from 18.7% in 2013 (Figure 7). Information on cigarette smoking in Great Britain going back to 1974 can be found in the 2013 Adult Smoking Habits report.

England had the lowest proportion of cigarette smokers in 2014 (18.0%), whilst Scotland had the highest (20.3%). Scotland had the greatest decline in cigarette smoking rates between 2010 and 2014, falling from 23.8% in 2010 (Figure 8).

Cigarette smoking by age group

Between 2010 and 2014, cigarette smoking declined across all age groups. Figure 9 shows that the biggest reductions were seen in the 18 to 24 and 35 to 49 age groups.

Cigarette smoking by gender

Figure 10 shows that in 2014, men (20.7%) were more likely to be cigarette smokers than women (15.9%). This difference was consistent with previous years; the smoking rate has declined at a similar rate for men and women.

Cigarette smoking by region

Adults living in northern regions of the UK were more likely to be cigarette smokers than those living in southern regions. Figure 11 shows the cigarette smoking rates in all regions of the UK.

Cigarette smoking by occupation

Figure 12 shows that adults in routine and manual occupations were more than twice as likely to be cigarette smokers than adults in managerial and professional occupations, 28.2% and 12.1% respectively.

Perceived good general health by cigarette smoking

Figure 13 illustrates differences between current cigarette smokers and adults who had never smoked and their perceptions of good general health by age:

  • in the 18 to 24 age group, 83.0% of current smokers and 91.9% of those who had never smoked considered themselves in good health

  • in the 50 to 64 age group, 56.3% of current smokers and 76.0% of those who had never smoked considered themselves in good health

Cigarette smoking by sexual identity

Adults aged 18 and over who identified as lesbian, gay or bisexual were more likely to be cigarette smokers than those who identified as heterosexual or straight (25.3% and 18.4% respectively) (Figure 14). This difference can in part be explained by the younger age profile of the lesbian, gay and bisexual population (Figure 3) and the higher proportion of younger smokers, shown in Figure 9.

Back to table of contents

5 .Background notes

  1. Integrated Household Survey

    The Integrated Household Survey (IHS) was previously formed from "core" questions asked by a number of our household surveys. This year the IHS is based solely upon the Annual Population Survey (APS), following the removal of IHS questions on the Living Costs and Food (LCF) survey in January 2014.

    Data for this bulletin were obtained from the APS for the survey months January to December 2014.

    These data have been prepared using the established IHS approach of imputing and calculating weights using IHS specific methodologies. This will be the last independent IHS dataset to be released.

    IHS variables will be added to the APS dataset from January – December 2015. For this dataset IHS variables will be subjected to the APS processing methodology.

    The 2015 dataset, to be released in 2016, will be the first APS dataset to include IHS variables. Further information on this change can be obtained by emailing socialsurveys@ons.gov.uk

    Further information on the IHS can be found on the ONS website.

    1.1 Consultations

    We have conducted a series of consultations with users about main decisions relating to the IHS. The outcome of each consultation can be found in the links:

  2. Notes on the themes

    2.1 Sexual identity

    The IHS asks a question on self-perceived sexual identity of adults in the UK. This question was developed as part of the ONS Sexual Identity Project, which developed, tested and implemented the question to satisfy the increasing demand for data on sexual orientation to meet the Equality Act 2010.

    While the Equality Act, and relevant legislation in the past, referred to sexual orientation, we have focused on collecting data on sexual identity. The sexual identity question measures how people see themselves and not how others see them.

    The question on sexual identity was developed and tested on a number of surveys in 2008 and was added to the IHS in 2009. The data have been collected to provide accurate statistics to underpin the equality monitoring responsibilities of public sector organisations and to assess the disadvantage or relative discrimination experienced by the lesbian, gay and bisexual population.

    The sexual identity question was asked of respondents aged 16 years and over; it was not asked by proxy. Proxy interviews are defined as those where answers are supplied by a third party, who is usually a member of the respondent’s household.

    The sexual identity question was asked in both face-to-face and telephone interviews, at first personal contact. During the face to face interviews, adults were asked; "Which of the options on this show card best describes how you think of yourself?" For telephone interviews, a slightly different way of collecting the information was used: "I will now read out a list of terms that people use to describe how they think of themselves". The list was read out to respondents twice. On the second reading, the respondent had to say "stop" when an appropriate term they identified with was read out. In both modes, the order in which the terms appeared, or were read out, was unique for each household’s respondent to ensure confidentiality.

    The "Other" option on the question was included to address the fact that not all people will consider they fall in the first 3 categories, that is, heterosexual/straight, gay/lesbian or bisexual.

    Processing of sexual identity data

    Due to the changing composition of surveys forming the IHS between 2009 and 2014, a series of minor changes were applied to the processing of sexual identity responses from the APS (in January 2012 and January 2014). These changes were applied to the rotation of previous responses to the sexual identity question. These have led to minor differences in the numbers of non-responses recorded in the APS compared with previous survey estimates.

    Non-response and sexual identity

    The voluntary nature of the survey means that people who do not wish to take part in the survey can refuse to do so. Although every effort is made to minimise the impact of non-response to the IHS component surveys, non-response can appear in several stages of the survey:

    • household non-response: where our interviewers are unable to obtain an interview with anyone in the household
    • unit non-response: where one or member of a household is not available to take part in our interview
    • item non-response: where an individual who has agreed to take part in our survey does not provide an answer to one or more question (but takes part in the majority of the survey)

    For the sexual identity question, there are two main sources of non-response which are reported in our estimates:

    • non-responders: these are adults who are part of an eligible household who were not present when the sexual identity question was asked, and therefore are classed as non-responders
    • don’t know or refusals: these are adults who have taken part in our survey who have declined to provide a valid response to the sexual identity question

    Our initial analysis has suggested the characteristics of eligible responders and non-responders to the sexual identity question are broadly similar. Therefore the non-response to this question should not lead to a significant bias in our estimates (with the distribution of the main characteristics of non-responders broadly following the distribution of our known population). To provide a transparent set of results, non-responders are included as a category in our results.

    2.2 Smoking prevalence

    The IHS collects information on adult smokers in the UK, asking questions of adults aged 18 and over. This question has been collected and published on the IHS since 2010. The Opinions and Lifestyle survey also collects information of cigarette smoking and e-cigarette use in Great Britain. These questions are asked of adults aged 16 and over. More information can be found on the Opinions and Lifestyle survey page on our website.

  3. Personal well-being

    As part of the Measuring National Well-being programme, in April 2011 we added what are termed "personal well-being" questions to the constituent surveys of the IHS. Personal well-being concerns a person’s self-reported assessment of their own well-being. Survey questions of this nature aim to capture a person’s well-being by measuring how people think and feel, for example, asking about life satisfaction, meaning and purpose, and day-to-day emotions. Used alongside more objective statistics, they provide a fuller assessment of national well-being.

    In September 2015, we produced a fourth statistical bulletin measuring National Well-being in the UK, the largest constituent survey of the IHS.

  4. Other sources of data

    Information on some of the topics covered in this bulletin can also be found from other sources. These sources include:

  5. Access to the data

    IHS data are made available through the End User Licence at the UK Data Service. The End User Licence is an agreement between the user and the University of Essex to provide users with the right to use the data held at the Data Service. The End User Licence dataset can be accessed through the UK Data Service (UKDS) website.

    A more detailed file can be accessed if Approved Researcher Status is sought and agreed. More information on the UK Data Service and the Approved Researcher process can be found on the UK Data Service website.

    Pre-release access to the IHS bulletin

    The phrase "Pre-release Access" refers to the practice whereby Official Statistics in their final form, and any accompanying written commentary, are made available to an eligible person in advance of their publication. The rules and principles which govern pre-release access are featured within the Pre-release Access to Official Statistics Order 2008.

    A list of the people who have pre-release access to this bulletin is available on our website.

  6. Experimental Statistics

    Experimental Statistics are those which are in the testing phase, are not yet fully developed and have not been submitted for assessment to the UK Statistics Authority. They are published in order to involve customers and stakeholders in their development, and as a means to build in quality at an early stage. The IHS is designated as Experimental Statistics.

    Further information on Experimental Statistics can be found on our website.

  7. Quality

    Detailed information relating to quality components of the IHS (including sampling variability, confidence intervals, and detailed methodological information) is in the following documents:

    • Quality and Methodology Information
    • IHS User guidance

    These documents are on the IHS web page.

  8. Confidence intervals and statistical significance

    Confidence intervals

    The IHS publishes information on confidence intervals to give an indication of the range in which the true population value is likely to fall.

    For the IHS, confidence intervals are calculated at the 95% level. This means that 19 times out of 20, the true value of the population would fall within the upper and lower boundaries. For example, a confidence interval of ±0.2% means that an estimate of 93.9% would range between 93.7% and 94.1% (19 times out of 20).

    Information on confidence intervals can be found in some figures in this report, and in the associated tables available to download.

    Statistical significance

    Throughout this report, the changes reported are deemed statistically significant. This means that we are confident that 19 times out of 20, differences will be down to real changes in our population, rather than as a result of sampling variability.

    In instances where changes between estimates are not statistically significant, these have been highlighted in the bulletin text, or not commented on in this release.

  9. Weighting to national population totals

    Population weighting serves 2 purposes:

    • it enables sample estimates to sum to known population estimates
    • it compensates for differential non-response among different sub-groups in the population

    Each sampled case is given a weight which can be thought of as the number of people that case represents in the population

    The estimates in this report have been weighted to ensure they are representative of the target population. Two weights have been used in this report, a sexual identity weight for tables in the sexual identity section and a household weight has been used for tables in the smoking section. Further information on the weighting strategy can be found on the IHS web page.

  10. Reference tables

    A series of reference tables have been included in this bulletin. These provide background data for each figure in this report, broken down by country. Figures covering main demographic characteristics of age and gender also provide a time series of estimates between 2010 and 2014. Confidence intervals have been provided within these reference tables for the most recent year of data (2014). These can be found in the data section of the publication.

  11. Details of the policy governing the release of new data are available by visiting www.statisticsauthority.gov.uk/assessment/code-of-practice/index.html or from the Media Relations Office email: media.relations@ons.gsi.gov.uk

Back to table of contents

Contact details for this Statistical bulletin

Tim Vizard
socialsurveys@ons.gsi.gov.uk
Telephone: +44 (0)1633 455278