Population forecasts adjusted as we get older

The UK’s population is expected to change significantly in the future, with the number of deaths starting to exceed births.

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), population growth in the UK will only be supported by immigration.

The ONS is forecasting that deaths will outnumber births by 59,000 this decade due to lower fertility rates, an issue both here in the UK and globally.

At the same time, the death rate is predicted to rise under an ageing population in the UK, with a growing number of post-war baby boomers.

However, this trend is likely to be offset by a net increase in migration, with the UK population expected to rise from an estimated 67.1 million in 2020 to 69.2 million in 2030.

This estimate of population growth has been revised down by 0.6 million since the last set of forecasts in 2018.

The number of over-85s is expected to rise from 1.7 million to 3.1 million in 2045.

James Robards, ONS statistician, said:

“The UK population is projected to grow by 2.1 million over the ten years to mid-2030, with England’s population expected to increase more quickly than the other UK nations.

“These projections suggest slower growth than we’ve previously said. This is because of lower assumptions both about future levels of fertility and mortality improvements.

“Given a higher number of deaths and fewer births are projected, net international migration is expected to play an increasing role in population growth.”

Analysis from the ONS noted:

“Over the 10 years between mid-2020 and mid-2030, natural change is projected to be negative 59,000. Over the same time period it is projected that net migration will lead to a total of 2.2 million people coming into the UK.

“Over the 25-year period between mid-2020 and mid-2045 it is projected that there will be 1.4 million more deaths than births. During this period, the population will grow by 3.9 million, again driven by projected net migration of 5.3 million.

“In the first year of the projections there is an increase in the number of deaths, reflecting mortality arising from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in the year to mid-2021.

“The number of deaths is then projected to decrease slightly and be followed by a steady increase in the number of deaths, as people born in the baby boom generations after World War Two and in the 1960s reach older ages.”