Britain ‘older than ever’ as proportion over 65 rises by two percentage points



The UK’s population is the largest it has ever been, new census data has revealed, with growth fueled by millions more older people living longer.

The population of England and Wales has increased by more than 3.5 million (6.3%) since the last census in 2011, when it was 56,075,912.

There were more people than ever before in the older age groups; the proportion of the population aged 65 and over was 18.6% (16.4% in 2011).

However, the data points to a slowdown in population growth over the past 10 years, according to figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) on Tuesday.

The previous census in 2011 showed that the number of people living in England and Wales rose by a record 7.1% in a decade.

ONS figures show that 51.0% of the population is female and 49.0% male. This is a change from 50.8% women and 49.2% men in 2011.

More than 20 million households across England and Wales completed census questionnaires in the spring of last year, with a record 89% of responses completed online.

The ONS today released its first tranche of data relating to the 2021 census in England and Wales.

In the autumn, the ONS will publish further figures relating to other aspects of the UK population, such as faith and sexuality.

Today’s restocking results and household estimates from the 10-year survey will guide future planning for local and national services.

It focuses on rounded estimates of the number of people and households residing in England and Wales in March 2021 and will provide information on:

  • population size and change

  • the age and sex of the population

  • the population density of the areas

  • how many households were there in 2021

More than 20 million households across England and Wales completed their questionnaires in the spring of last year, and the results were turned into statistics for each local area.

Jen Woolford, director of health, population and methods transformation at the ONS, said: ‘The early census estimates are hugely important as they underpin everything from calculating GDP, employment , well-being and, (now), COVID rates.

“They will be essential to our long-term understanding of the health, social and economic impacts of the pandemic.

“But these are actually just the start of a program that will continue from the fall for the next two years. These will include data on ethnicity, religion, labor market, education and housing.

“For the first time, they will also include information on British Armed Forces veterans, sexual orientation and gender identity.”