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Population Matters statement on UK population estimates for 2020

25 June 2021

immediate use

Population Matters statement on UK population estimates for 2020

ONS release:

Population Matters director Robin Maynard says:

“The increased death rate through COVID-19 is a tragedy, and the progress in getting it under control must be continued. The underlying pattern remains an upward trajectory, however. When, in 2018, Population Matters polled views on the UK’s population size, just one in fifty people thought it was too low. Since then, our population has grown by half-a-million people.

“It’s clear to almost everyone that more people means more pollution, more congestion, more emissions, a greater impact on nature and, for most of us, a lower quality of life. People don’t want to be cogs in the growth machine – while business, policymakers and most economists may see us as units of labour, taxation and consumption, the rest of us want to lead good lives in a greener country on a healthy, safer planet.

“Instead of essential action over our environmental crisis, including addressing the number of high-emitting consumers in countries such as the UK, we are seeing unjustified panic over population. Demographic change such as an ageing population is not an unfolding disaster but a challenge that a wealthy country such as the UK can meet with sensible, proportionate policy solutions.

“UK fertility rates have been falling now for nine years. A poll we conducted this May found that more people want two or fewer children than want two or more (62% v 27%). It’s clear that small families are here to stay, and that’s welcome news for people and planet. Government should embrace the positives of that development, not wring their hands over it.”

Contact: Alistair Currie, Head of Campaigns and Communications

E:; T: 0208 123 9170 (24hrs)


Population growth: ONS figures for 2018: 66.4m; for 2020 67.1m (today’s release)

Attitudes to population size: YouGov poll, 28-29th June 2018. Population Matters press release here.

The UK’s population is currently [2018] 66 million. Generally speaking, do you think this is too high, too low, or about right?

Too high: 50%

About right: 28%

Too low: 2%

Don’t know: 21%

Fertility rates: Office for National Statistics Provisional births in England and Wales – 2020 and WQuarter 1 2021

Desired family size: Yonder conducted an online sample of 4,177 UK adults 18+ between 30th April and 6th May 2021.  Population Matters press release here, and full poll results available here.

Population Matters is a UK-based campaigning charity, promoting a sustainable global population through ethical, choice-based means, to improve people’s lives and protect the natural world.

135-137, Station Rd, London E4 6AG

Charity no: 1114109


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