Ageing in the UK…

By 2066 5 million people in the UK will be aged over 85 and over, or 7% of the population.

11 million people in the UK were aged 65 and over in 2022, which is 19% of the population. In 10 years time, by 2032 this will have increased to 13 million people, or 23% of the population.

Currently 1.5 million people are aged 85 and over, or around 1.5% of the UK population. This older age group is the fastest growing and is set to double to 3.2 million by 2041 and treble by 2066 to 5.1 million when it will represent 7% of the UK population.

Health and ageing

In terms of disability-free life expectancy, the state of ageing in England is getting worse. Life Expectancy has increased, but disability free life expectancy hasn’t kept pace: as people get older they are spending proportionately more time in ill-health.

In 2020, healthy life expectancy was 62.4 years for men and 60.9 years for women.

This means that on average men and women can expect to live 10 disability-free years after the age of 65, with around a further 8 with some kind of disability, on average, based on average life expectancy at birth.

Poverty and ageing

18% of Pensioners lived in relative poverty in 2020/21 a sharp rise up from 16% in 2018/19, which equates to 2 million people.

Housing and ageing

In 2018 78% of households headed by someone aged 65 or over were owned, with only 6% of those having a mortgage.

16% of households headed by someone aged 65 or over socially rent, while 6% privately rent.

If we look at figures for the over 55s we see that the number of 867 000 homes rented privately to people aged 55 and over, which is an all time hight for the decade.

Ageing and Inequality

Taken together there has been a trend towards greater inequality between older people.

The net (non-pension) wealth of the richest 20% of people aged 65 and over
group doubled between 2002 and 2018, while that of the poorest 20% fell by 30%.12, and this is largely driven by the increase in house prices.

Work and Ageing

The economic inactivity rate for 50-64 year olds increased sightly during the Pandemic, after several years of declining. In 2021 the economic inactivity rate was 24% for men and 33% for women.

Policy Suggestions for an ageing population

There are several practical policy solutions we can start putting in place now to address the challenges of an ageing population.

One OBVIOUS. and necessary starting point would be more social housing for older people of a decent standard – and if this was developed as community housing this would also solve the problem of many older people being isolated in their own homes, AND such housing could be built in areas with decent health care systems nearby.

A second area would be to tackle age discrimination in work and offer more targeted support for older people wanting to go back to work – many people want to work into their 70s, but not necessarily full-time, so anything the government can do to encourage workplaces to offer more flexible part-time working arrangements would be a help.

The ageing population: Why this Matters!

There are a lot of people aged 45-60 who are going to be retiring in the next 20 years – that large bulge just above the grey line below. And once we get below this line you’ll see a couple of significant dips in the birth rate.

So this means that over the next 20 years there are going to me MORE over 65s and especially more over 85s while at the same time fewer working age people paying tax to support growing number of retirees.

Thus if we don’t start working now to put policies and infrastructure in place to help support those older people who need it, we are going to find this even more challenging in the future as the future is going to be one of more older people and less money to support them!

Signposting

This material should be useful for anyone studying the families and households option as part of their A-level in Sociology.

To return to the homepage – revisesociology.com

Sources

Age UK: Later Life in the United Kingdom 2019

Centre for Better Ageing: The State of Ageing 2022.

Office for National Statistics: UK interactive population pyramid

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