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Population Matters statement on Office for National Statistics population projections

12 January 2022, immediate use

Population Matters director Robin Maynard says:

“Anyone who cares about the wellbeing of current and future generations of people and of our planet should welcome the good news that UK population growth is slowing down.

“Ignore the familiar alarmist warnings of ‘economic collapse’ from old school economists and those putting short-term profit before long-term wellbeing. More people enjoying longer, healthier lives and a younger generation making the responsible, ecological choice to have smaller families is to be celebrated. 

“The latest ONS data predicting 2 million fewer people in the UK by 2045 than previously projected means more space for us, more space for nature – and less of the bad stuff that makes all our lives challenging: less traffic congestion, less climate change pollution, less competition for housing and schools – the list goes on.

“The ONS must discard the outdated ‘old age dependency ratio’, which treats everyone of pensionable age as a burden, rather than the reality of a growing body of active senior citizens contributing hugely to society. The ageist, alarmist ‘silver tsunami’ narrative is long overdue retirement.”


Contact: Alistair Currie, Head of Campaigns and Communications

T: 0208 123 9170


Notes for editors

Today’s 2020-based projections are for a lower UK population than was projected in the previous 2018-based projections: in 2030, 69.2m (2020-based) compared to 69.8m (2018-based); by 2045 71m (2020-based) compared to 72.8m (2018-based).

They show the number of people of pensionable age will grow to 15.2 million, an increase of 28% on the level in 2020.

Population Matters published a report on policy options to deal with ageing in October 2020, Silver linings, not silver burdens. Executive summary here, full report here and press release here.

Its findings include:

  • In 2017, the jobs of approximately 1.5 million people in the UK were assessed as being at “high risk” of being replaced by robots or other automated systems.
  • The number of over-65s in work in the UK increased by 188 percent between 1999 and 2019.
  • In the UK, the economic contribution of people over 65 was estimated in 2016/17 to be £160 billion. Allowing for inflation and other changes, it is likely that in 2021 the total contribution of those over 65s exceeds the UK government’s pension bill of £169bn.
  • Economic dependency has declined in the UK since 1992, despite an ageing population.
  • Changes in population age structure alone are expected to add no more than one additional percentage point to the average annual per-person health care expenditure growth rates in OECD countries over the next 40 years.

Population Matters is a UK-based charity campaigning to achieve a sustainable global population through ethical means, to protect nature and improve people’s lives.

135-137 Station Road


E4 6AG

Charity no: 1114109


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