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Parts of the UK are 'ageing twice as fast as everywhere else'
28 October 2019, 05:19
The UK is "growing apart" with some areas ageing twice as fast as everywhere else, a new study has suggested.
Research by the Resolution Foundation indicated that Maldon in Essex, Copeland in Cumbria and Richmondshire in Yorkshire are ageing twice as fast as the rest of the UK, while areas such as Nottingham and Oxford are growing younger.
The think tank said that while the UK population as a whole is ageing - one in four are set to be over 65 by 2041 - there is widespread demographic divergence in both the pace and direction of ageing in different areas.
The UK's average age has been rising steadily, from 36 in 1975 to 40 today, but a 25-year gap was discovered between its oldest and youngest local authorities (54 and 29 respectively), said the report.
The research suggested that 60 local areas across the UK have a higher typical age than Japan (the country with the highest average age of 46), including places like North Norfolk and Rother where the average age is over 50.
In contrast, Nottingham and Oxford are among 23 places in the UK that have a younger average age than Chile (which has an average age of 34), it was found.
Researchers said young people are leaving rural and coastal communities, which are already older on average than other locations, for urban areas.
Low local birth rates were said to be a key factor in ageing in older communities.
In the 10 fastest-ageing areas of the UK, women aged 15-44 account for less than 15% of the population, compared to a UK average of 19%.
In contrast, poorer urban ethnically diverse areas are ageing more slowly because of high birth rates.
The high birth rate in Barking and Dagenham in London (19 births per 1,000 people, compared to 11 in the UK as a whole) has given it the highest proportion of under 18s in the country, said the report.
Charlie McCurdy, of the Resolution Foundation, said: "Everyone knows we're getting older, but how and where this ageing is taking place is less well understood. Places like North Norfolk, where the average age is now over 50, are ageing rapidly. In Nottingham, however, the average age is under 30, and the city is actually getting younger.
"Britain is growing apart as it ages because many rural and coastal communities are welcoming fewer babies each year, while migration within the UK and from abroad has seen younger people concentrating in urban areas that are already relatively young.
"This demographic divergence needs to be better understood by both policymakers and politicians, with implications for our local economies and national politics."