Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland population to hit almost two million by 2024

By Linda Stewart

Northern Ireland's population is projected to rise by more than 5% by 2024.

According to a new report by the NI Statistic and Research Agency, the population could reach 1,938,700 by 2024, with a large increase in the older demographic.

Using assumptions about births, deaths and migration, the report predicts the working-age population will rise by less than 1%, but the population aged 65 and over will increase by almost 26%.

The largest projected rise is in Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon, amounting to 10.4%, or 21,400 people.

The smallest increase is predicted for Derry City and Strabane, up by 1.5% or 2,200 people. This is one of seven of the 11 council areas projected to see a decline in its working-age populations. The report assumes migration into Northern Ireland will stay low.

By mid-2034 our population is projected to reach two million, and by mid-2038 annual population growth is projected to fall below 0.2% for the first time since mid-1999. This will be due to a falling number of births and rising number of deaths as a result of an ageing population. The population aged 65 and over is projected to increase by 74.4%, or 498,500 people, from mid-2014 to mid-2039, with the result that one in four people (24.7%) will be in this age category.

Between 2014 and 2024 the population aged 65 and over is expected to rise in all council areas - 14.8% in Belfast to over 32% in each of Newry, Mourne and Down (32.5%), Mid-Ulster (32.6%) and Fermanagh and Omagh (33.2%). Growth of more than 50% is projected among those aged 85 and over in four of the 11 councils, with Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon set to gain the highest number of people in this age category (1,700, equating to 50.5%).

The number of children (aged up to 15) in Northern Ireland is projected to rise by 3.9% up to 2024, most noticeably in Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon council (9.6%, equating to 4,400 children).

Four of the 11 councils are projected to see a small reduction in the number of children, with Ards and North Down experiencing the largest fall (2.3%, or 700 children).

In contrast, the number of pre-school children aged up to three in Northern Ireland is projected to fall by 4.6% (4,600 children) over the decade.

Decreases are projected in all but one of the council areas, namely Lisburn and Castlereagh, where a small increase of 100 pre-school children (1.4%) is projected.

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