The UK population grew by 400,000 last year to 64.1 million people according to the ONS. This represents a rise of 0.63% on the previous year and saw the UK experience the largest population increase of the four most populous EU member states and higher than the overall EU average. Net migration represented 46% of the rise, while just over half was accounted for by the birth rate.
Almost all the UK has experienced population growth, with London rising the fastest, having seen an increase of 108,000 – a quarter of the UK population growth.
Population growth is set to continue with the ONS projections forecasting the number of people in the UK estimated to reach 68.0 million by mid-2022 and further increase to 73.3m by 2037.
What does all this mean?
The increasing size of the population will continue to put pressure on living standards, infrastructure, resources and the environment. This raises policy questions over housing, the health service, education, transport and infrastructure, pensions and immigration.
The demographic breakdown of population growth is also important to note. Over 65’s now account for over 17% of the total population. The number of people in this age group has increased by 17.3% since 2003. This both increases the load on the working population but also means the rise in workforce participation by the older generation will have to continue in order to sustain economic growth.
To help compensate, the UK will have to become more productive if the population wishes to continue to maintain or improve living standards.