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Five times more centenarians than in 1980

Released: 29 September 2011 Download PDF

The number of centenarians in the UK has increased to 12,640, five times more than 30 years ago when the figure was 2,500. The major contribution to the rising number of centenarians is increased survival between the age of 80 and 100 due to improved medical treatment, housing and living standards, and nutrition during their lifetime.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) today releases the latest data on the UK ageing population, to coincide with Older People’s Day on 1 October.

As the number of people living to 100 in the UK reached a record high in 2010, so did life expectancy for both males and females. Females continue to live longer than males, but the gap has been closing. A newborn baby boy could expect to live 78.1 years and a newborn baby girl 82.1 years if mortality rates remain the same as they were in 2008-10.

In 2000 there were approximately nine female centenarians for every male centenarian. By 2010 this had reduced to five. The falls in the ratios of women to men at older ages are mainly due to recent improvements in male mortality.

As a result of increases in the proportion of older people, the median age of the UK population is increasing. Over the past 25 years the median age increased from 35 years in 1985 to 39.7 years in 2010.

The ratio of women to men at older ages is falling. In 1985 there were 154 women aged 65 and over for every 100 men of the same age, compared to the current sex ratio of 127 women for every 100 men.

The age profile of the UK population varies considerably geographically. In 2010 West Somerset had the highest median age in the UK, at 52.7 years, with the next highest North Norfolk at 51.5. All of the ten areas with the highest percentages of people aged 65 and over were located on the east or south coast, reflecting a tendency for people to retire to these areas.

Oxford, Manchester and Cambridge had the lowest median ages in 2010, at 29.2, 29.4 and 29.5 respectively. Higher education institutions in these areas increase the population of young adults, reducing the average age.

ONS’s ageing mapping tool compares indicators of population ageing for different areas of the UK online. It has been updated to include the 2010 mid year population estimates to coincide with Older People’s Day and can be found at:

Background notes

  1. The full Older People's Day statistical bulletin is available at:
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