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A quarter of people in the UK will be over 65 by 2050

Expert warns people should not be ‘forced’ to work longer

One in four people in the UK will be aged 65 and over by 2050, an increase from approximately one in five in 2018, official figures show.

The figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) estimate that in 50 years’ time, there will be an additional 8.2 million people aged 65 years and over in the UK – a population roughly the size of present-day London.

Helen Morrissey, pension specialist at Royal London, said although this brings challenges in terms of how this older population can be supported “we must not fall victim to kneejerk reactions to address this situation”.

“While people willing and able to work should be encouraged to do so we must not put people in a position where they are effectively forced to work in jobs they are physically unable to do. We need long-term thinking, not knee-jerk reactions,” she argued.

The data also reveals that after decades of improvement to life expectancy, there has been a slowdown in improvement. Life expectancy at birth remained at 79.2 years for males and 82.9 years for females in 2015 to 2017.

Sarah Coates, in the centre for ageing and demography at the ONS, said: “The structure of the UK’s population is changing: people living longer and having fewer children means the age structure is shifting towards later ages. The ways in which people live are also changing with cohabiting families the fastest-growing family type and more young adults living with their parents.”

In 2018, there were 19.1 million families living in the UK, of which the fastest growing type is cohabiting couples. Since 2008, there have been an additional 700,000 cohabiting couple families – a growth rate of 25.8%. Meanwhile, more young adults are living with their parents.