We wish Her Majesty the Queen many happy returns on the occasion of her 90th official birthday.
Her Majesty is an example of the increasing longevity that the world is enjoying. In Britain, according to the King’s Fund, “In 1901 life expectancy was 45 years for men and 49 years for women. By 2012 this had increased to 79.2 years for men and 83.3 years for women. This is expected to rise further by 2032 to 83.3 years (an increase of 4.1 years) for men and to 86.8 years (an increase of 3.8 years) for women.”
This increasing longevity, while welcome, is a factor in Britain’s population increase of approaching half a million a year, along with a relatively high fertility rate and high net migration, and thus in all the challenges that such population growth creates.
In Her Majesty’s lifetime, the population of the UK has grown by half. In other words, for every two UK residents when she was born, there are now three. For the world as a whole, the population has risen almost four fold, from two billion when she was born to approaching 7.5 billion now.
Her Majesty is not unaware of the issue of population growth. Her Majesty’s observation regarding the small Caribbean island of St. Vincent (St. Vincent and the Grenadines is one of 32 independent countries of which The Queen has been sovereign), could be equally said of the UK or indeed the world as a whole:
“One must remember that (St. Vincent’s) resources are finite and cannot accommodate indefinite population growth. Families must plan their families just as the Government has to plan the Nation’s development. There can be no long-term stability when the rate of population growth exceeds the rate of job creation.”