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The Aging Population of England and Wales

This article is published in collaboration with Statista

by Anna Fleck

New data from the 2021 census has found that nearly one in five people, or 11.1 million, in England and Wales is over 65. This is the highest share of people in the age bracket on record, signaling an aging population that is nearing retirement. North Norfolk had the oldest population, with one in three people being over 65.

Although the absolute number of young people has increased, as our chart shows, their ratio to the rest of the population fell in the two nations, with 2021 reflecting a lower share of people aged 0-19 than ten years before. This is mirrored in the wider trend, as while the population has increased by 3.5 million (or 6.3 percent) since 2011, when it was 56,075,912, this growth has been at a slower pace than in the ten years before, when it rose by 7.8 percent (or 4 million).

The IMF states that an aging population can lead to a cooling economy as “the growth of GDP slows, working-age people pay more to support the elderly, and public budgets strain under the burden of the higher total cost of health and retirement programs for old people.” In other words, this will likely result in the Treasury feeling the pressure of pensions and health services in the coming years. The Royal College of Physicians has already warned that the UK is heading towards a “crisis of care for older people”, following analysis in March that there was just one full-time geriatrician for every 8,031 people over the age of 65 in England, as reported by The Guardian.

The first wave of results from the survey, which took place on March 21 2021, reveals data on population size, density, and a breakdown of male and female residents by location. It found that the East of England saw the greatest percentage increase in terms of population, rising 8.3 percent from 5.8 million to 6.3 million. Tower Hamlets in London saw the greatest leap in terms of households, seeing a 19 percent rise, while Westminster saw a fall of 10.4 percent. Future waves of data will reveal the figures for Scotland and Northern Ireland, as well as stats on topics such as education, housing, health, sexual orientation and gender identity, and demography and migration.

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