The UK population is projected to increase by 4.3 million by 2018. This increase is equivalent to an average annual rate of growth of 0.7 per cent.
If past trends continue, the population will continue to grow, reaching 71.6 million by 2033. This is due to natural increase (more births than deaths) and because it is assumed there will be more immigrants than emigrants (a net inward flow of migrants).
In common with other European countries, the UK has an ageing population. The proportion of people aged 65 and over is projected to increase from 16 per cent in 2008 to 23 per cent by 2033. This is an inevitable consequence of the age structure of the population alive today, in particular the ageing of the large numbers of people born after the Second World War and during the 1960s baby boom.
As a result, despite the forthcoming rises in state pension age, old age support ratios will fall. In 2008, there were 3.2 people of working age for every person of state pensionable age. This ratio is projected to fall to 2.8 by 2033, taking into account the future changes to state pension age.
Table source: Office for National Statistics
Trends differ for the four countries of the UK. The populations of England and Northern Ireland are projected to increase by 7 per cent by 2018 and Wales by 5 per cent. The projected increase for Scotland, where fertility and life expectancy levels are assumed to remain lower than in the rest of the UK, is 4 per cent.
Projections are uncertain and become increasingly so the further they are carried forward. For this reason, variant population projections have also been produced to show what could happen in situations of higher and lower levels of fertility, mortality and migration.
Source: Office for National Statistics
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