The latest official projections confirm that the UK population is likely to rise by six million or around 10% over the next fifteen years (64 million in 2012 to 70 million by 2027).
This growth, equivalent to two cities the size of Greater Manchester, will be strongest in England, though also occurring in the rest of the UK.
Additionally, over the next 25 years, people over 75 years of age will almost double in number, rising from ten million (16% of the population) in 2012 to 19 million (26% of the population) in 2037.
These factors, singly or in combination, feed into current policy debates on housing availability and affordability, easy access to education, employment and health, transport and travel congestion, rising energy and water prices, green belt, biodiversity and amenity protection, carbon emissions, air pollution, and room for waste disposal and even burials.
Most (60%) of the projected growth over the next 25 years is due to net migration, either directly (43%), or indirectly (17%), i.e. due to their age and fertility characteristics.
While more distant projections are less certain, the expectation is for continued growth, to 73 million by 2037, 75 million by 2050, 80 million by 2071, 85 million by 2087 and 90 million by 2112.
Variant projects produced at the same time and based on differing levels of births, deaths and migration, indicate alternative possible outcomes, ranging from a low of 63 million by 2112 to a high of 123 million by the same year.
Commented Simon Ross, chief executive of Population Matters, “England is already Europe’s most densely populated country. Why should we also have Europe’s highest population growth rate? More people make things worse. If we are serious about tackling the many issues we face as a society, we need to address one of the principal underlying causes, which is population growth. Caring for the growing number of elderly should not be an argument for ever more people, but for reducing the costs contingent on population growth. The variant projections indicate that human numbers is something that human ingenuity can address, if we choose to. We can choose to have smaller families, and the government and local authorities must provide the encouragement, sex education and family planning to help us to do that. The government should also limit net migration further and we should all support them in that.”