First results from the 2011 census back those who say demographic change — the much worried-about ageing of Britain for example — is a lot more gradual than often recognised.
The Office for National Statistics reported that the percentage of the English population aged 65 and over was the highest seen in any census but also that the rate of growth is gradual. There were 430,000 residents aged 90 and over in 2011 compared with 340,000 in 2001 – that’s an average increase of 9,000 nonagenarians and centenarians each year during the decade.
In a population of 53 million that’s not a demographic disaster, especially when the population has been growing at an historically remarkable rate. Over the decade numbers increased by 7 per cent, the largest growth in any decade since the state census began in 1801.
So much depends on how numbers are interpreted. The ONS has traditionally be shy of putting out glosses but with this census, in the midst of national gloom and doom, we need to be careful not to overdo the negativity.