Statement on ONS estimates of the very old

Population Matters press release statement on ONS estimates of the very old

ONS release: Estimates of the very old, including centenarians, England and Wales: 2002 to 2022 – Office for National Statistics (

In response to the ONS figures issued today, Alistair Currie, Head of Campaigns and Communications at Population Matters, said: 

“More old people is a challenge, not a crisis. The over 90s are still less than one in 100 of the population of England and Wales and economic dependency has declined in the UK since 1992, despite the ageing of the population.

Abundant evidence shows the challenge arising from that success can be met with conventional policy levers, from pension reform to increased investment in preventative health. Retired people already contribute billions of pounds-worth of unrecognised value to our economy through things like volunteering and child care, and could contribute far more if we let them. 

“What we’re instead seeing is a creeping ageism which characterises the oldest people as a burden or a problem, when we owe them a debt of gratitude. Where they are neglected, devalued or left wanting, that is as a result of our choices, not sinister demographic forces. 

“Despite the chorus from an increasingly vocal pronatal fringe, we certainly don’t need more babies, who will in turn become old. Let’s fix this problem with creativity and pragmatism, not a Ponzi scheme.” 




Alistair Currie, Head of Campaigns and Communications


T: +44 (0)20 4552 5131; mobile +44 (0)780 165 4011


Population Matters is a UK-based charity working globally to achieve a sustainable future for people and planet. Our mission is to drive positive, large-scale action through fostering choices that help achieve a sustainable human population and regenerate our environment. UK charity number: 1114109


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