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A new ONS report looks at our ageing population and improvements in health and longevity and suggests that 70 is now the new 65.
Is 70 the new 65? A new report by the Office for National Statistics on health and ageing suggests it is and there are big implications for people working in their later years.
The report shows that health status by chronological age has improved over time while health status at different ages is generally more stable. It says that for every single age the levels of poor general health and limiting longstanding illness declined between 1981 and 2017 due to improvements in health.
It highlights the increasing importance of healthy ageing, of which work, even if just voluntary, is a big part.
The report says that, in 2018, there were 11.9 million residents in Great Britain aged 65 years and over, representing 18% of the total population. This compares with the middle of the 20th century (1950) when there were 5.3 million people of this age, accounting for 10.8% of the population.
By 2050, there are projected to be 17.7 million people aged 65 years and over (24.8% of the population). The oldest group are the fastest growing, with the numbers of those aged 85 years and over projected to double from 1.6 million in 2018 to 3.6 million by 2050 (5% of the population).
The balance of older and younger people in the population has also tipped more towards older people, says the report, with the median age of the population rising from 34 years in 1950 to 40 years in 2018. By the middle of this century it is projected that median age will reach 43 years.
The report says that in terms of life expectancy, men aged 70 years have a remaining life expectancy (RLE) of 15 years and women aged 70 years an RLE of 17 years. That means a man aged 70 years today is equivalent to a man aged 65 years in 1997 and a woman aged 70 years is equivalent to a woman aged 65 years in 1981.
Levels of poor general health for women aged 70 in 2017 were around the same as for those aged 60 in 1981 while levels of limiting longstanding illness were similar for women aged around 64.
For men, levels of poor general health at age 70 in 2017 were around the same as for those aged 65 in 1997 while levels of limiting longstanding illness were similar for around age 57.