UK’s over-85 population projected to nearly double in 25 years

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The number of people aged 85 and over in the UK is projected to rise from an estimated 1.7 million in 2020 to 3.1 million by 2045 (Dominic Lipinski/PA) (PA Archive)
The number of people aged 85 and over in the UK is projected to rise from an estimated 1.7 million in 2020 to 3.1 million by 2045 (Dominic Lipinski/PA) (PA Archive)

The UK’s elderly population could nearly double in size over the next 25 years, new figures suggest.

The number of people aged 85 and over in the UK is projected to rise from an estimated 1.7 million in 2020 to 3.1 million by 2045.

This would see the over-85s account for 4.3% of the population by 2045, or around one in 23 people, up from 2.5% or one in 40 in 2020.

Over the same period the proportion of the population aged 0-14 is projected to fall from 17.9% to 14.8%, while the proportion aged 15-29 drops from 18.3% to 16.9%.

(PA Graphics) (PA Graphics)
(PA Graphics) (PA Graphics)

The figures, which have been published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), reflect how the structure of the UK’s population is changing, as it continues to tilt more towards older age groups.

“There are projected to be many more people at older ages by 2045, in part because of the baby boomers from the 1960s now being aged around 80 years, as well as general increases in life expectancy,” the ONS said.

Fewer young children are likely to be in the UK by 2045, with the fertility rate in the 2020s and 2030s projected to be below that seen in 2001, when fertility was already at a record low.

The number of children aged 14 or under in 2020 was estimated at 12.0 million, but by 2045 it could have dropped to 10.5 million.

By contrast, the number of people of pensionable age is projected to jump from 11.9 million to 15.2 million, while those aged 75 and over rises from 5.8 million to 9.7 million.

Overall the UK’s total population will continue to increase in size, though not as fast as in recent decades.

Between 2010 and 2020 the population is estimated to have grown by 4.3 million, up 6.9%, but from 2020 to 2030 it is projected to rise by 2.1 million, up 3.2%.

The long-term projection is also for slower growth, with the population rising by 5.8% from 2020 to 2045, compared with 15.6% from 1995 to 2020.

James Robards, from ONS Population and Household Projections, said: “The UK population is projected to grow by 2.1 million over the 10 years to mid-2030, with England’s population expected to increase more quickly than the other UK nations.

“These projections suggest slower growth than we’ve previously said. This is because of lower assumptions both about future levels of fertility and mortality improvements.

“Given a higher number of deaths and fewer births are projected, net international migration is expected to play an increasing role in population growth.”

The increase of 2.1 million between 2020 and 2030 is based on projections that 6.6 million people will be born, 6.7 million people will die, 5.6 million people will immigrate to the UK and 3.4 million people will emigrate.

Across 2020 to 2045, the ONS projects there will be 1.4 million more deaths than births, but the population will grow by 3.9 million, again driven by projected net migration of 5.3 million.

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