Ageing Fast and Slow

October 28, 2019

A new report, Ageing Fast and Slow has been published by Resolution Foundation. The report looks at how locations in the UK are ageing differently, with areas that have a larger older population ageing faster than those with a generally younger population.

All developed countries are getting older, says Resolution Foundation, and the UK is no different. Its average age rose from 35.1 years in 1947 to 38.6 in 2001, and stands at 40.2 years today.

Despite this national ageing population receiving much attention from the media, local demographic change has not been discussed nearly as much. In Britain, older places are ageing faster than younger ones and younger places are getting old at a slower pace (or actually getting younger), according to the report; its states that this has been driven primarily by differences in birth and migration rates.

But the implications of unequal ageing across regions and local authorities haven’t been much debated, despite the fact that demographic divergence matters for local government, local economies and politics.

Ageing Fast and Slow aims to highlight differences in ageing by geography to understand the drivers of those differences and to examine any potential implications of these trends.

Notably, the report has found that gaps in average ages vary substantially across the UK. North Norfolk has the oldest typical age (53.8 years), while the youngest area is Oxford (29 years). There are clear geographic patterns in typical ages across the country, with coastal and rural areas generally much older than urban ones.

From a local authority point of view, in 2018, 33 local authorities in the UK had an average age 10% higher than the national average, and 39 had an average age 10% lower than the national average. Both the poorest and richest areas of the country ageing slowest (and even getting younger), while middle-income areas have aged most rapidly.

This all has implications for the social care sector. Those authorities with older populations are grappling with rising demand for social care services in the wake of acute funding cuts over the past decade.

Read the full report on the Resolution Foundation website.

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