Skip to content

Estimates of Centenarians in the UK, 2010

Released: 29 September 2011 Download PDF

Population aged 100 years and over, UK, 1965-2010

This chart shows the population aged 100 years and over, in the UK, for the years 1965-2010.
Source: Office for National Statistics

Download chart data

Over the last 30 years the number of centenarians (people aged 100 years or more) in the UK has increased five fold from 2,500 in 1980 to 12,640 in 2010.

The chart shows the estimated number of centenarians in the UK for the period 1965 to 2010. Throughout this period female centenarians have always outnumbered male centenarians due to higher life expectancies for women. The number of female centenarians has risen steadily since the mid 1960s, and this increase has accelerated over the last decade. The number of male centenarians has also shown a marked increase since the year 2000.

The ratio of female to male centenarians has started to fall in recent years; in 2000 there were approximately nine female centenarians for every male centenarian, in 2009 there were approximately six female centenarians for every male centenarian and in 2010 the ratio fell to approximately five female centenarians for every male centenarian. This fall is due to recent improvements in male mortality. Since 2000 the estimated number of male centenarians has nearly tripled from 720 to 1,970 in 2010. The number of female centenarians over the same period has increased by 58 per cent from 6,140 in 2000 to 10,670 in 2010.

Estimated Population aged 100 years and over, 1970-2010

  1970 1980 1990 2000 2010
England and Wales 1,080 2,280 4,030 6,230 11,610
Scotland 80 150 260 480 820
Northern Ireland 30 70 100 140 210
UK (Total) 1,180 2,500 4,380 6,860 12,640

Table source: Office for National Statistics

Table notes:

  1. Figures may not add due to rounding.

Download table

The estimated number of centenarians in the UK has increased by 84 per cent since 2000 and increases have occurred across all the UK countries. The largest percentage increase between 2000 to 2010 of 86 per cent, occurred in England and Wales, while the smallest increase was in Northern Ireland at 47 per cent. Northern Ireland had a higher percentage increase in the nineties (56 per cent) than in the last decade, whereas in England and Wales the increase in the nineties was smaller (46 per cent). Throughout the nineties, Scotland had a higher percentage increase than both Northern Ireland and England and Wales, at 58 per cent, compared to 70 per cent between 2000 and 2010.

The numbers of supercentenarians (people aged 110 years or more) in the UK have also been increasing over the last 30 years. Although numbers are small they have increased five fold from two in 1980 to ten in 2010. The estimated number of supercentenarians reached 12 in 1998 and again in 2004. Since 2007 the numbers of supercentenarians in the UK have been relatively stable at around ten per year.

The major contributor to the rising number of centenarians is increased survival between the age of 80 and 100 due to improved medical treatment, housing and living standards, and nutrition. Future numbers of centenarians will depend on both the numbers of people at younger ages in the population today and their future survival. Current population projections suggest that the number of centenarians in the UK will exceed 160,000 by mid 2040. This would be more than a twelve-fold increase from the 2010 figure, an average annual increase of 9 per cent.

Source: Office for National Statistics

Background notes

  1. 11/10/2011 - Correction notice: An error was identified in the calculation of the Estimates of the very elderly for females, England and Wales, 2008, originally published on 29 September 2011. This error has affected the estimates of the very elderly for the UK and the mortality rates in the 2008-2010 interim life tables for females at the oldest ages (from around 90 and older) in the UK, GB, England and Wales, England and Wales. The data has been corrected.

    ONS apologises for any inconvenience caused.

  2. The methodology used for calculating the estimates of the very elderly (including centenarians) is explained in 'Calculating Estimates of the Very Elderly'.

  3. Data shown in the chart and text prior to 1981 are 1st January estimates while data from 1981 are mid-year estimates. This difference in reference date does not affect the overall trends.

  4. Percentages given in the text are calculated using unrounded figures. Figures that appear in the text are rounded to the nearest ten.

  5. The latest national population projections are the 2008-based published on 21 October 2009. 2010 based national population projections are due to be published on 26 October 2011.

  6. 2010 Mid-year population estimates are available from: ‘Population Estimates for UK, England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, Mid-2010 Population Estimates’.

  7. The estimates of the very elderly for 2002-2010 are available from: ‘90+ Mid-Year Population Estimates 2002-2010’.

  8. Older People's Day 2011

  9. 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

    These National Statistics are produced to high professional standards and released according to the arrangements approved by the UK Statistics Authority.

Content from the Office for National Statistics.
© Crown Copyright applies unless otherwise stated.