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An Executive Summary, 2010-based NPP Reference Volume This product is designated as National Statistics

Released: 29 March 2012 Download PDF

Introduction

This publication presents the results of 2010-based projections of the the population of the UK and its constituent countries. Comparisons in this summary are with the previous 2008-based projections.

Key results

  • The population of the UK is projected to increase by 4.9 million over the next 10 years from 62.3 million at mid-2010 to 67.2 million at mid-2020, an annual average rate of growth of 0.8 per cent. It is projected that the UK population will be 73.2 million at mid-2035, a total increase of 10.9 million over the next 25 years.

  • The projected total population of the UK in 2035 is about 924,000 (1.3 per cent) higher than in the 2008-based projections. This is due to an increase in the assumed number of births and net migration.

  • Some 47 per cent of the projected 10.9 million increase in the population between 2010 and 2035 is directly attributable to the assumed level of net inward migration. The remaining 53 per cent is attributable to projected natural change (an excess of births over deaths) of which 32 per cent would occur with zero net migration. The remaining 21 per cent arises from the effect of net migration on natural change. It is estimated therefore, that some 68 per cent of projected population growth in the period to 2035 is attributable, directly or indirectly, to net migration.

Projected population change

The change in the age distribution between 2010 and 2035 is shown in Figure 0.1.

Figure 0.1: Age pyramid of actual and projected population, 2010 and 2035, United Kingdom

Age pyramid of actual and projected population, 2010 and 2035, United Kingdom
Source: Office for National Statistics

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The projection has the following features:

•   The population is projected to continue ageing with the median age of the population expected to rise from 39.7 years in 2010 to 42.2 years by 2035.

•   The number of children aged under 16 is projected to increase by 12 per cent from 11.6 million in 2010 to 13.0 million by 2035 (see Table 0.1).

•   The number of people of working age1 is projected to rise from 38.5 million in 2010 to 44.7 million in 2035, a total increase of 16 per cent between 2010 and 2035.

•   The number of people of pensionable age1 is projected to increase by 28 per cent from 12.2 million in 2010 to 15.6 million by 2035. In 2010, there were 0.6 million more people of pensionable age than children aged under 16; by 2035 this difference is projected to exceed 2.6 million.

•   The population aged 80 and over is projected to grow from 2.9 million in 2010 to 5.9 million by 2035, doubling over 25 years. Longer-term projections suggest this rapid increase will continue throughout the projection period, tempered only by periods such as the late 2050s where the small population cohorts born in the 1970s reach this oldest age group. By 2085 the projections suggest there will be 11.5 million people aged 80 and over.

Table 0.1: Actual and projected population by age, United Kingdom, 1971-2085

thousands
Year All ages Under 16 16-64 65 & over (80 & over)
           
Estimates
1971 55,928 14,257 34,263 7,408 (1,287)
1981 56,357 12,543 35,339 8,476 (1,572)
1991 57,439 11,685 36,695 9,059 (2,126)
2001 59,113 11,863 37,878 9,373 (2,459)
2010 62,262 11,608 40,349 10,304 (2,903)
Projections
2011 62,735 11,690 40,537 10,508 (2,970)
2021 67,636 13,064 41,690 12,882 (3,758)
2031 71,766 13,083 42,846 15,837 (5,415)
2035 73,208 12,953 43,307 16,948 (5,855)
Longer-term projections
2041 75,314 13,041 44,424 17,850 (6,664)
2051 78,741 13,780 45,815 19,146 (8,309)
2061 81,773 14,041 46,693 21,038 (8,723)
2071 84,795 14,141 48,513 22,142 (10,109)
2081 88,038 14,604 49,192 24,242 (11,191)
2085 89,300 14,763 49,453 25,084 (11,480)

Table source: Office for National Statistics

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Due to differences in past and present demographic patterns, and those assumed for the future, projected trends differ for the four countries of the UK (see Table 0.2).

•   The population of England is projected to increase by 19 per cent by 2035, Northern Ireland by 11 per cent, Wales by 12 per cent and Scotland by 10 per cent.

Table 0.2: Actual and projected population of the UK by constituent country, 1971-2060

thousands
Year United Kingdom England Wales Scotland Northern Ireland
           
Estimates
1971 55,928 46,412 2,740 5,236 1,540
1981 56,357 46,821 2,813 5,180 1,543
1991 57,439 47,875 2,873 5,083 1,607
2001 59,113 49,450 2,910 5,064 1,689
2010 62,262 52,234 3,006 5,222 1,799
Projections
2011 62,735 52,655 3,018 5,251 1,811
2021 67,636 57,020 3,187 5,509 1,919
2031 71,766 60,751 3,326 5,701 1,987
2035 73,208 62,078 3,369 5,755 2,005
Longer-term projections
2041 75,314 64,035 3,428 5,825 2,026
2051 78,741 67,244 3,527 5,922 2,048
2060 81,481 69,841 3,607 5,990 2,044

Table source: Office for National Statistics

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Notes for Projected population change

  1. Working age and pensionable age populations based on the changed definitions of State Pension age under the 1995 and 2007 Pensions Acts.

Underlying assumptions

The assumptions underlying the projections are based on an analysis of demographic trends and expert advice. For the UK as a whole the key assumptions for the future are that:

•   Average completed family size, which has been falling from a peak of nearly 2.5 children per woman for women born in the mid 1930s, will level off at 1.84 children for women born from 2010 and later.

•   Expectation of life at birth, based on the mortality rates for the year in question, is expected to rise from 78.5 years in 2010 to 83.3 years in 2035 for men and from 82.6 years in 2010 to 87.0 years in 2035 for women. The 2035 figures are slightly lower than those assumed in the previous projections. These differences are mainly due to the age-specific mortality rates for 2010 being assumed to be higher and the rates of mortality improvement between 2010 and 2011 assumed to be lower at many ages below 90 compared to those projected for the same period in the 2008-based projections. Over the early years of the projections these counterbalance the assumption of higher rates of mortality improvement at most ages in 2035. Beyond 2035, life expectancy is higher in the 2010-based projections and this differential increases over time.

•   The long-term net inward migration assumption to the UK is 200,000 persons per year from 2016–17 onwards. This compares with an assumed long-term net inflow of 180,000 a year in the 2008-based projections.

Background notes

  1. 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.

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