2.5 million in 2002 to reach 4.9 million by 2031. Longer-term
population projections suggest a continuing increase for around a
further 20 years, peaking in the early 2050s at nearly 7 million.
This is one of the key results from the most recent population
projections for the UK and its constituent countries. The
projections, made by the Government Actuary, were based on the
estimated population at the middle of 2002 and were published in
December 2003. Detailed results are published today* together with a
full account of the underlying assumptions.
The projections show that:
* The number of older people will increase significantly relative to
the number of younger people, with the average (mean) age expected to
rise from 39.3 years in 2002 to 43.6 years in 2031.
* The number of children aged under 16 is projected to fall by 7.4
per cent from 11.8 million in 2002 to just below 11 million in 2014
and then to rise slowly until the late 2020s.
* The number of people of working age (currently defined as between
ages 16 to 64 for men and 16 to 59 for women) is projected to rise by
3.5 per cent from 36.6 million in 2002 to 37.8 million in 2011.
Allowing for the planned change in women's state pension age from 60
to 65 between 2010 and 2020, the working age population will increase
further to 39.4 million by 2021 and then gradually start to fall.
*National population projections, 2002-based
The Stationery Office.£32.50. ISBN 0 11 621753 7
Available free on the National Statistics website.
* The working population will also become much older. Although little
change is projected in the number of adults under age 30, the 30-44
age group is projected to fall by 11.6 per cent from 13.5 million in
2002 to 11.9 million in 2017 before rising to 12.7 million in the
late 2020s. Conversely, the 45-59 age group is projected to increase
by 15.2 per cent by 2018 before beginning to fall.
* The number of people over state pension age is projected to
increase by 11.9 per cent from 10.9 million in 2002 to 12.2 million
in 2011. Given the change in women's state pension age, the
population of pensionable age will then rise only slightly further
(to 12.7 million) by 2021. However, a faster increase will then
resume, with longer-term projections suggesting that the number over
state pension age will peak at over 17 million in about sixty years'
* The UK population is projected to increase gradually from an
estimated 59.2 million in 2002 to reach 64.8 million by 2031. This is
equivalent to an annual growth rate of 0.3 per cent. Longer-term
projections suggest the population will peak around 2050 at over 65
million and then gradually start to fall.
* Due to differences in past and present demographic patterns, and
those assumed for the future, projected trends differ for the four
countries of the United Kingdom. A small decline in the population of
Scotland is projected to continue from 2002, while the populations of
Wales and Northern Ireland are projected to peak in around 30
years time and then start to fall. The population of England is still
projected to be rising at 2040, but at a low rate of growth.
1. The Government Actuary's Department (GAD) produces national
population projections for the United Kingdom and its constituent
countries at the request of the Registrars General for England and
Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. The assumptions used are
agreed in consultation with the statistical offices of the four
2. A new set of projections is normally made every second year, based
on a full-scale review of the trends affecting the underlying
assumptions about fertility, mortality and migration. The next full
set, scheduled for issue in October 2005, will be based on the
estimated population at the middle of 2004. However, ONS will be
publishing revised population estimates for England and Wales on 9
September 2004. Consequently, GAD will be producing an interim set of
UK national population projections, based on the population at the
middle of 2003, on 30 September 2004. See
http://www.gad.gov.uk/news.asp?nid=628 for further details.
3. The main focus of the projections is on the period to 2031.
Longer-term projections to the year 2042 for the individual
countries, and to 2072 for the United Kingdom and Great Britain only,
are also available. However, the further ahead the projections go,
the greater is the degree of uncertainty.
4. Summary data on the 2002-based national population projections
were previously published in an ONS/GAD First Release on 18 December
2003 and in an article in Population Trends 115, the Spring 2004
issue of the ONS quarterly journal. Full details of the 2002-based
national population projections for the United Kingdom and
constituent countries were published on the GAD website
(www.gad.gov.uk) on 18 December 2003. National Population
Projections: 2002-based gives detailed results and a full account of
the underlying assumptions.