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Centenarian population has increased 72% over last decade

Published 30/09/2015

Figures show 550,810 people in Britain are estimated to be aged 90 and over
Figures show 550,810 people in Britain are estimated to be aged 90 and over

The UK's population is continuing to age and the percentage of people who live to celebrate their 100th birthday has increased by almost three quarters over the last decade, new figures show.

More than half a million people, 550,810, are estimated to be aged 90 and over, almost three times the 187,250 in 1984, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

It also found the number of centenarians living in the UK has risen by 72% in the last decade.

The figures suggest women are outnumbering men when it comes to reaching milestone birthdays, with 249 females to every 100 men aged above 90.

"The chance of surviving to older ages has increased over recent decades, contributing to the rising number of those aged 90 and over in the population.

"Improvements in mortality rates at older ages are due to a combination of factors such as improved medical treatments, housing and living standards, nutrition and changes in the population's smoking habits," the ONS report states.

Although centenarians account for only 3% of the population aged 90 and over and just 0.02% of the overall UK population, their numbers are growing.

In 2014, there was an estimated 14,450 people aged 100 or over living in the UK - more than four times as many as the estimate of 3,250 30 years ago.

In the last decade their numbers have gone up by 6,030, a 72% increase.

This means that as the Queen reaches her own 90th birthday, she will be spending more and more time writing birthday cards to centenarians.

At present, she sends a personal congratulatory message to anyone in the United Kingdom celebrating their 100th birthday, their 105th birthday, and each year following.

Janet Morrison, chief executive of older people's charity Independent Age, said: "We welcome these new figures revealing a spectacular increase in the number of people aged 100 or over.

"It's a remarkable fact that there are over 14,000 centenarians in the UK and highlights the significant progress we have made, particularly in medical care and public health over the last half century.

"Yet the UK remains unprepared for ageing in many crucial areas. The NHS, social care, transport and housing all require much more work if we are to successfully meet the needs of our rapidly ageing population.

"And as people live for longer, we risk greater numbers of lonely older people living alone without support, company or friendship.

"We have raised these critical issues in our new 2030 Vision report, which warns politicians that there is no excuse for inaction and that they must act now to help our society get ready for ageing."

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