The goal of this report by the Resolution Foundation is to describe differences in ageing by geography, with some places getting older and some getting younger; to understand the drivers of those differences; and to examine the implications for politics and policy.

All developed countries are getting older and the UK is no different. Its average age rose from 35.1 in 1947 to 38.6 in 2001, and stands at 40.2 today. People living longer and the large baby boomer generation moving from working age into pension age has dominated the headlines.

In contrast to this national ageing debate, local demographic change has received far less attention. Britain has experienced demographic divergence, with older places ageing faster than younger ones and younger places getting old at a slower pace (or actually getting younger). This divergence has been driven primarily by differences in birth and migration rates

Key Findings

  • Gaps in average ages vary substantially across the UK. North Norfolk is the area of the UK with the oldest typical age (53.8 years), while the youngest area is Oxford (29 years). There are clear geographic patterns in typical ages across the country, with coastal and rural areas generally much older than urban ones.
  • In 2001, 15 local authorities in the UK had an average age 10 per cent higher than the national average, and 17 had an average age 10 per cent lower than the national average. Roll forward to 2018, and those figures have increased to 33 and 39, respectively.
  • Our decomposition shows that the quarter of local authorities in England and Wales that have aged fastest have done so due to a lack of births as a share of the population, and lower rates of migration, than the England and Wales average.
  • On the flipside, the quarter of local authorities that have aged slowest (or actually got younger) have done so due to migration.
  • Both the poorest and richest areas of the country ageing slowest (and even getting younger), while middle-income areas have aged most rapidly.

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