The population of the United Kingdom is likely to reach 70 million within the next 10 years, according to projections released by the Office of National Statistics on 3 March. With a population of 65 million today, the UK could be the most populous nation in Europe by 2050.
According to the ONS:
“Since 1955 (except in 1976) the number of births in the UK has been higher than the number of deaths. This natural change has resulted in the growth of the population.
“The direct effect of net migration has [also] increased the population by more than 250,000 people per year on average from 2004 to 2015; this is about 50,000 more people per year than natural change for the same period.”
One significant reason for population increase is people living longer, bringing death rates down. A growing proportion of UK inhabitants are over 65, rising from 14.1% in 1975 to 17.8% in 2015. The ONS forecasts that the proportion will rise to a quarter by 2045.
The ONS commented:
“While living longer is a cause for celebration, an ageing population may result in fewer people of working age to support those of pension age,” the report said. While a larger population increases the size and productive capacity of the workforce, it also increases pressure and demand for services such as education, healthcare and housing.”
In response to these concerns, Population Matters issued a statement to the media, saying:
“The simple solution of adding more young people to care for old people or pay for their care is fundamentally flawed: those young people will themselves become old and require support. A lower birth rate, however, reduces the number of dependent children, which boosts the economy by liberating money for individuals and families to invest in pensions, for instance, and making more people available for paid employment.
“An ageing population demands our creativity and serious thinking and is another example of why a strategic approach to population is needed and long-overdue.”