UK reaches record number of people over 100

The UK’s elderly population has reached a record high, and the number of adults aged 100 has also risen by more than 10 per cent in the space of a year, new figures have shown.

Friday, 25th September 2020, 7:00 am
Captain Tom Moore celebrated his 100th birthday this year.
Captain Tom Moore celebrated his 100th birthday this year.

There were 13,330 centenarians – those aged 100 or over – in 2019, a 5.2 per cent rise from 2018, while the number of adults aged 100 rose 11 per cent, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) estimated.

The number of people over 105, known as semi-supercentenarians, has also risen. The number of males aged 105-plus has more than doubled in the last decade, while the number of females of this age has risen by around half.

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The figures also show there were 605,181 people aged 90 and over in 2019, a 3.6 per cent rise on the previous year and the highest level on record.

Just over twice as many women as men were alive at this age last year.

There was a 62 per cent rise in the number of 99-year-olds alive in 2019 compared with the previous year – a result of a birth spike after the First World War.

Estimates of the very old are calculated from death registration data and occur at the mid-point of each year.

The analysis covers a period before the coronavirus outbreak. Analysts say they expect the number of centenarians to rise sharply, as a result of the post-war baby boom, but that Covid-19 may influence this.

Rose Giddings, from the ONS’s Centre for Ageing and Demography, said: “The UK population aged 90 years and over grew to its largest size in 2019.

“Historical improvements to male life expectancy continued to narrow the gap between men and women in this age group to its lowest level on record, with around two women to every man.

“Despite a low number of births 100 years earlier, we saw an uptick in the number of people aged 100 years and over in 2019, due to medical advances and improvements in public health during their lifetime.

“The birth spike after World War One has resulted in an unusually large birth cohort who are aged 99 in our latest figures.”

The ONS said improvements in male life expectancy are largely responsible for the growing population aged 90 and over.

While women have historically had longer life expectancies, the gap is narrowing as male life expectancy has increased at a faster rate over many decades.

Separate statistics released by the ONS showed an 11-year gap between the areas with the lowest and highest life expectancies in the UK.

The area with the lowest figure at birth was Glasgow City, at 73.6 years for men and 78.5 for women. There was a 11.3-year gap between Glasgow City and the area with the highest life expectancy – Westminster, at 84.9 – and an 8.7-year gap for women.

In England, there was a 10.5-year gap between the highest life expectancy for men and the lowest (74.4 years in Blackpool). For women, the gap was 7.7 years.

Londoners had the highest life expectancy in England between 2017 and 2019, while those in the North East of England had the lowest.

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