More people are living to an older age

People are living longer due to better health and diet. The trend will be for further improvements in the future supporting greater longevity.

  • People over 65 represent nearly one fifth of the UK population.
  • The trend has been one of steady growth in the older population. 30 years ago people over 65 represented one sixth of the population.
  • Birth rates have trended downward as longevity has increased.
  • The result of the two trends is that the UK has an ageing population, with an increasing number of older people compared to younger people.

More people will live to be 100

Data shows that more people are already living into very old age. Forecasts show that this trend will increase in the future. 50 can no longer be seen as a beginning of old age and retirement.

  • Over the last 30 years, there has been a tripling of the number of people in their 90s.
  • Current estimates suggest that with improving health outcomes, 25% of those currently in their 50s could live to be 100.
  • Analysis by the Office for National Statistics shows that, with the highest expectations for life expectancy, 25% of men and 30% of women aged 50 in 2012 could live to be 100.
  • At a mid-expectation for life expectancy the figures would be 13% and 18% and, at their lowest expectation would still rise to 5% for men and 9% for women.
  • The full ONS report can be seen here

There are implications for economy and society

Population trends leave a shrinking number of working people, up to state retirement age, supporting a growing number of retired and economically inactive older people.

  • The age dependency ratio, the ratio of working age to post working age people in the population, has fallen from five working age people supporting each retired person in 1960 to three working people supporting each retired person today.
  • This puts a strain on public finances as the tax base from fewer working age people must support a growing number of economically inactive pensioners.
  • As the potential length of retirement increases with life expectancy, people will need larger pensions and savings for retirement. ¬†Government estimates suggest 12 million adults currently below state pension age could have inadequate retirement incomes.
  • Government has responded by seeking to encourage people to stay in work for longer. The mandatory retirement age has been withdrawn and the state pension age is rising and will continue to do so incrementally with changes in life expectancy.

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