Ireland's elderly population is to rocket over the next three decades and will eventually outnumber the young, new figures have revealed.
As life expectancy rates are expected to increase significantly by 2046 - with men likely to live to their mid-80s and women pushing 90 - the over-65s could make up 1.4 million of Ireland's population.
The latest population projections from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) showed 2011 levels of 532,000 old people could reach 860,700 by 2026, and increase by a further 470,000 by 2046.
"Developed economies have witnessed significant improvements in mortality since the start of the 20th century," the report stated.
"In Ireland, male life expectancy has increased from 57.4 years in 1926 to 77.9 years in 2010, a gain of 20.5 years over the 84-year period, while females have seen a gain of 24.8 years - from 57.9 to 82.7."
The very old population - the over-80s - is expected to rise more drastically, from 128,000 in 2011 to between 484,000 and 470,000 in 2046.
With over-65s accounting for up to a total 1.4 million in 2046, they will outnumber young people - from newborn to 14 years of age.
The young population was higher than the old population in 2011 - with 976,600 compared to 531,600.
But this will reverse by 2036, and the gap will be even wider by 2046 when there is expected to be between 112,000 and 561,000 more older people than young.
In its report, entitled Population and Labour Force Projections 2016 to 2046, the CSO based its figures on assumptions about future trends in migration and fertility.