United Kingdom: National population projected to pass 70 million in 2029

October 30, 2017

Business, Did you know?, International

United Kingdom: National population projected to pass 70 million in 2029


Office for National Statistics
Release date: 26 October 2017

National population projections provide an indication of the future size and age structure of the UK and its constituent countries based on a set of assumptions of future fertility, mortality and migration.

Over the period between mid-2016 and mid-2026 the population of the UK is projected to grow from 65.6 million to 69.2 million, reaching 70 million by mid-2029. England is projected to grow more quickly than the other United Kingdom nations.

“Over that period 54% of growth is projected to result directly from net international migration. The other 46% is because there will be more births than deaths.

These projections suggest slower growth than the previous (2014-based) projections. This is because of lower assumptions about future levels of fertility and international migration, and an assumption of a slower rate of increase in life expectancy.

Population projections are not forecasts and will inevitably differ to a greater or lesser extent from actual future population change. There is already a margin of error in the underlying data – for example, estimates of the current population and past migration flows. In addition, our assumptions about the future cannot be certain as patterns of births, deaths and migration are always liable to change and can be influenced by many factors.

Main points

  • The UK population is projected to increase by 3.6 million (5.5%) over the next 10 years, from an estimated 65.6 million in mid-2016 to 69.2 million in mid-2026.
  • England is projected to grow more quickly than the other UK nations: 5.9% between mid-2016 and mid-2026, compared with 4.2% for Northern Ireland, 3.2% for Scotland and 3.1% for Wales.
  • Over the next 10 years, 46% of UK population growth is projected to result from more births than deaths, with 54% resulting from net international migration.
  • The UK population is projected to pass 70 million by mid-2029 and be 72.9 million in mid-2041.
  • There will be an increasing number of older people; the proportion aged 85 and over is projected to double over the next 25 years.
  • The UK population growth rate is slower than in the 2014-based projections; the projected population is 0.6 million less in mid-2026 and 2.0 million less in mid-2041.

___
Growth

How does the UK compare with other countries?
The European Union (EU) statistical office, Eurostat, publishes population projections for the current members of the EU. They are 2015-based and use different methods from Office for National Statistics (ONS). Eurostat projects that the UK population at the start of 2040 will be 75.0 million. This is substantially higher than our (2016-based) mid-2040 projection of 72.7 million.

Eurostat’s projections suggest that the total population of the current EU members will increase by 4% between 2015 and 2040, varying between 53% growth for Luxembourg and a 27% decline in population for Lithuania.

On that basis the UK’s projected growth of 16% between 2015 and 2040 is well above the EU average. It is also the highest growth rate among the four largest nations in the EU – over the same period France’s population is projected to grow by 10% and Germany’s by 4%, while Italy’s population is projected to see a slight population decline.

The mid-2016 UK population estimate was 76,000 higher than projected in the 2014-based projections, meaning a slightly higher starting point. However, the changes indicated in Table 2 all work to reduce future population growth. In consequence, comparing the 2014-based projections with the 2016-based projections:
  • the projected UK population in mid-2026 was 69.8 million; this has been reduced to 69.2 million
  • the projected UK population in mid-2041 was 74.9 million; this has been reduced to 72.9 million
  • the UK population was projected to pass 70 million by mid-2027; it is now projected to do so by mid-2029

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