UK population to grow by 9.7m over next 25 years

The UK population is forecast to grow by 9.7 million over the next 25 years from approximately 64.6 million in the middle of last year to 74.3 million by 2039, according to a report published on Thursday by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

By the middle of 2027, the UK population is predicted to reach 70 million.

The authors of the ONS report believe 51% of the projected population increase over the next two-and-a-half decades will come from net migration (more people coming into the country than leaving it), while natural increase (number of births exceeding deaths) will account for 49%.

UK populationPopulation in millions. Source: Office for National Statistics

From 2014 to 2024, the population of the UK is forecast to increase to 69 million – an increase of 4.4 million. This is 249,000 higher than the last 2012-based projection for that year.

UK population getting older

Britain’s population is predicted to continue ageing, with the median age rising to 40.9 years by mid-2024 from 40.0 years in 2014, and to 42.9 by mid-2039.

One in every twelve Brits will be aged at least 80 years by mid-2039, the report predicts.

Despite raising the State Pension age in the current legislation, the number of citizens of State Pension Age is forecast to rise from 12.4 million in mid-2014 to 16.5 million by mid-2039 – an increase of 32.7%.

This reflects the ‘baby boom’ impact, i.e. the number of people born in the 1960s who will reach retirement age during this period.

Births Deaths and Net MigrationFigures in millions. Source: Office for National Statistics

Over the same 25-year period, the number of citizens of working age is predicted to increase by 11.4% to 44.6 million by mid-2039, from 40 million in mid-2014. A working age person is between 16 years and the State Pension Age.

The ‘Old Age Dependency Ratio’ – the number of citizens of pensionable age to every 1,000 people of working age – will fall from 310 in 2014 to 284 in 2020 (due to changes in the State Pension Age), and will then rise to 370 in 2039.

The UK and the European Union

According to figures published by Eurostat, only Germany and France had larger populations than the UK in 2014 in the European Union (EU).

The UK’s population is projected to overtake that of France by 2030, and will be the largest in the EU by 2047.

The EU’s population as a whole is forecast to increase by 2% from 2014 to 2024, and by 3% by 2039.

Of the EU member states, only the populations of Sweden, Belgium and Luxembourg are predicted to grow at a faster rate than the UK over the 25-year period.