UK population set to pass 70 million mark in 2031
By Flora Thompson, PA Home Affairs Correspondent
The UK population is set to pass the 70 million mark in the next decade but at a slower rate than previously thought, according to official statistics.
The number of people living in the country is expected to rise by 4.5% over the next 10 years, from an estimated 66.4 million in mid-2018 to 69.4 million in mid-2028, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.
This means the population is projected to pass 70 million by mid-2031, reaching 72.4 million by mid-2043.
But according to the predictions - published every two years - the annual growth rate for the UK population is projected to drop from 0.60% in mid-2019 to 0.27% by mid-2043.
The country's population growth rate is also slower than in projections made in 2016, with the expected population anticipated to be 0.4 million less in mid-2028 and 0.9 million less in mid-2043.
The pace of growth is expected to slow based on assumptions that women will have fewer children, in light of recent falls in fertility rates, and a slower rate of increase in life expectancy.
In the 10 years between mid-2018 and mid-2028, the projections for the UK suggest:
- 7.2 million people will be born
- 6.4 million people will die
- 5.4 million people will immigrate long-term to the UK
- 3.3 million people will emigrate long-term from the UK
During this time, net international migration is expected to account for 73% of the UK population growth, while more births than deaths could account for 27%.
England's population is anticipated to grow quicker than the other UK nations: 5% between mid-2018 and mid-2028, compared with 3.7% in Northern Ireland, 1.8% in Scotland and 0.6% in Wales.
There is expected to be a growing number of older people, with the proportion aged 85 and over projected to almost double over the next 25 years.
Anna Dixon, chief executive at the Centre for Ageing Better, said the figures showed the age of the population was "dramatically shifting", adding: "These longer lives are a huge opportunity, but big changes are needed to our workplaces, homes, health services and communities if we are to ensure that everyone is able to age well.
"We also need to rethink our attitudes to age, and tackle the ageist attitudes which hold back too many people from enjoying a good later life."
Alp Mehmet, chairman of Migration Watch UK, branded it a "staggering projection", warning of the pressure rising numbers could place on housing, transport, schools, university places.
The ONS said: "The UK population is projected to grow by three million people by 2028.
"This assumes migration will have a greater impact on the size of the population than the combination of births and deaths.
"Although migration declines at first and the number of births is stable, the number of deaths is projected to grow as those born in the baby boom after World War Two reach older ages.
"The population is increasingly ageing and this trend will continue.
"However, because of the expected rise in the state pension age to 67 years, it is projected that slightly fewer than one in five people will be of pensionable age in 2028, a similar proportion to today."