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Summary - Chapter 2: Population change

Released: 16 February 2012 Download PDF

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The UK population is ageing. Between 2010 and 2051, the proportion of people aged 65 and over is projected to increase from 17 to 24 per cent, while the proportion aged 85 and over is projected to increase from 2 to 7 per cent.

In 1981, men aged 65 could expect on average to live a further 14.0 years and women aged 65 a further 18.0 years. By 2051, life expectancy for men aged 65 is projected to be 25.9 years; for women aged 65 it is projected to be 28.3 years.

Cohort life expectancy at age 65, UK

Line chart showing cohort life expectancy for men and women between 1981 (when men aged 65 could expect a further 14 years and women 18.0 years) and 2051 (25.9 years for men; 28.3 years for women).
Source: Office for National Statistics

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In 2010, there were 3.2 people of working age for each person of State Pension Age and over in the UK. This ‘old age support ratio’ is projected to fall to 2.9 by 2051. Without the increases in State Pension Age that are taking place under current legislation, it would drop further – to 2.0 – by 2051.

Source: Office for National Statistics

Background notes

  1. Historic figures are based on ONS population estimates. Projections relate to the ONS's 2010-based principal population projections.
  2. Life expectancy figures shown here are based on the cohort method of calculating life expectancy, which uses mortality rates that prevail as the type of person in question ages. This requires the estimation of future mortality rates as well as the observation of past rates.
  3. Details of the policy governing the release of new data are available by visiting or from the Media Relations Office email:

    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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Pension Trends - consists of 14 chapters bringing together official statistics on pensions and retirement.

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