Record Number of 100-Year-Olds in the UK

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100-year-old WWII veteran Captain Tom Moore.
100-year-old WWII veteran Captain Tom Moore. (Image: CHRIS JACKSON/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Despite the pandemic over the past one and a half years, the United Kingdom has reported that a record number of people aged 100 and above lived in the country in 2020.   

According to the ONS (Office For National Statistics), the number of adults aged 100 and overreached 15,120 last year, which is an increase of 18 percent from the previous year. This surge was largely fueled by a spike in 100-year-olds, whose population rose by 52 percent to 7,590 in 2020 from 4,980 in 2019.

The population of the over-90s rose only by 0.7 percent as compared to 3.6 percent in the previous year. Angele Storey of the ONS Centre for Ageing and Demography blamed this decrease on COVID-19.

The high number of 100-year-olds is said to be linked with the First World War. “This was driven by people born in the post-World War One birth spike turning 100 years old… Improvements in living standards and public health over the last century have improved the chances of those born at that time surviving to age 100,” Storey told The Times.

From a gender perspective, the number of women over the age of 90 was double that of men in the UK. However, this gender gap has come down over the course of the past three years as the result of male life expectancy increasing at a higher rate in comparison to female life expectancy. This is attributed to a higher quality of working conditions and a sharp dip in the number of male smokers.

In Wales, for every 100,000 people, there were 25 people aged over 100. For England and Scotland, this number was 23 and 18 respectively.

The National Records of Scotland reported on Sept. 23 that it had used the “age of death” database for building a profile of the number of people above 90 years.

“For example, if someone died in 2019 aged 105, it would mean that he/she was alive and aged 104 in 2018 and 103 in 2017, etc. By collating ‘age at death’ data, the estimates for earlier years become more accurate as more death records are available to inform these age profiles,” said the NRS Scotland website.

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