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The UK population: Who are we?

Estimated read time: 3 mins

Carrie Tennick, August 27, 2019

The UK’s population is growing slower than at any year since 2004, according to the latest research by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

According to the figures, the population reached an estimated 66.4 million in mid-2018.

UK population rising

Each of the four countries making up the UK saw growth over the year to mid-2018. England saw the fastest growth rate, at 0.6%. This equates to growth of 358,000 people, reaching 56 million residents.

Northern Ireland also saw a 0.6% growth rate. But this is the equivalent to 11,000 people, taking the country’s population to 1.9 million. Scotland’s population grew by 13,000 to 5.4 million, representing a 0.2% growth rate. Meanwhile, Wales also saw a rise of 13,000 in its population, taking it up to 3.1 million people – a growth rate of 0.4%.

This UK-wide growth means that the numbers of families and households has risen too. In 2018, 19.1 million families lived in the UK. Some 67% of these families were headed up by married couples or those in civil partnerships. A further 18% were cohabiting couples, while 15% were single-parent families.

An ageing population

The researchers have projected that in 50 years, the UK is going to see a further 8.2 million people aged 65 and over. This is roughly equivalent to the current population of London. By 2050, it is expected that one in four of us will be aged 65 or over. This will be a rise from around one in five in 2018.

We’re seeing a shift towards an older population as people live longer and fertility declines. Women are delaying childbirth and having fewer children now. According to the ONS, fertility rates have been declining since the 1960s. In 2017, the UK had an average fertility rate of 1.74 births per woman.

Sarah Coates, senior research officer at the ONS’ Centre for Ageing and Demography, said: “The structure of the UK’s population is changing: people living longer and having fewer children means the age structure is shifting towards later ages.”

Life expectancy has also seen consistent rises in recent decades. It is projected that this will continue to grow, but that it will slow down. Life expectancy at birth remained at 79.2 years for baby boys and 82.9 years for girls from 2015 to 2017. It is thought that in 2066, life expectancy will stand at 86.4 for newborn boys and 88.9 for girls.

This trend towards an older population has resulting implications for UK society.

An older workforce

As the population ages, older people are spending longer in the workforce. One of the bigger problems associated with older workers is the disproportionate number of accidents at work they suffer.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that in 2018/19, 25% of fatal injuries to workers happened to those aged 60 and over, despite only making up roughly 10% of the workforce. The HSE’s figures show that workers aged 65 and over have a rate of fatal injury more than four times as high as the average across all ages, while those aged 60 to 64 have a rate more than twice as high.

If you’ve suffered an accident at work in the last three years that wasn’t your fault, you could make a claim for compensation. First4Lawyers can help by putting you in touch with a specialist solicitor with the experience you need for success.

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