The world has an ageing population and here we look at what this global megatrend means for the UK

According to the United Nations, every country in the world is experiencing growth in the number of older people in their populations. In 2019 there were 703 million people aged 65 or over in the world, and this is projected to double to 1.5 billion in 2050, which means that by then one in six people in the world will be aged 65 years or over.

Global Megatrend: The Ageing Population – By 2050 1 in 6 people in the world will be aged 65 years or over. And in the UK this is estimated to be 1 in 4 people #ageingpopulation #globalmegatrend Click To Tweet

The ageing population is a human success story – after all, it’s improvements in public health, and social and economic developments, as well as medical advancements that have made this possible.

Globally, a person aged 65 years in 2015-2020 could expect to live, on average, an additional 17 years, and by 2045-2050 that figure will have increased to 19 years.

Women currently outlive men by 4.8 years, but this global gender gap is expected to narrow over the next three decades. However, at the same time as increased longevity, we are also experiencing declining fertility, and it is the combination of these two potent shifts that is giving rise to this global megatrend.

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), just like the rest of the world, the UK’s population is also ageing.

There are currently nearly 12 million (11,989,322) people in the UK aged 65 and above, of which 5.4 million people are aged 75+, 1.6 million are aged 85+, over 500,000 people are 90+ (579,776) and 14,430 are centenarians.

By 2050 it is projected that one in four people in the UK will be aged 65 years and over – an increase from approximately one in five in 2018.

In 50 years’ time there are likely to be an additional 8.6 million people aged 65 years and over in the UK – which is the same as a population roughly the size of London as it is now.

Figures from the ONS also confirm that in the UK, the average number of children that a woman has during her lifetime is declining. The total fertility rate is the hypothetical average number of children a woman would have in her childbearing years, if she were to to experience the age-specific fertility rates of the year in question. In 2012 the average number of children per woman was 1.92. In 2017 it was 1.74.

So why does this matter?

As people are living longer and having fewer children, the age structure of our society is starting to change. This has economic implications for both society at large, and for private individuals.

We are already beginning to see trends develop in our living arrangements as a result of the ageing population. There is a distinct rise in the number of older single-person households in the UK , with 3.8 million people over the age of 65 living alone, and older women more likely than older men to live alone.

Added to that, there is a rise in the number of multi-generational households in the UK, as families find that having older members living with them has practical and financial benefits for all generations.

This inevitably affects the way our homes are designed and how we live in them. As more households all over the world are affected by this trend, it will also have significant influence on the kinds of products that we buy for our homes in order to make living in them easier and more comfortable.

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