28/09/2007

Number Of Centenarians Increasing

The number of centenarians - people aged 100 years and over - has increased at a faster rate in England and Wales since the 1950s than any other age group, according to figures released by the Office of National Statistics.

The ONS said that the same thing has also been happening in many other industrialised countries.

Between 1911 and 2006, the number of centenarians is estimated to have increased from 100 to 9,000; however, this increase has not been constant across the period, the ONS said.

Before 1940, the average annual increase was 6.4%. Annual growth rates slowed to 6% in the 1980s and were 4.5% in the 1990s. Since 2002, the growth rate has returned to 5.8%.

Between 1981 and 2000, the rate at which the number of centenarians had been increasing fell. The ONS said that, in part, this reflected a slowing down in the rate at which the number of births increased a century earlier. It also said that these generations would have been affected by deaths caused by the 1918-1919 flu pandemic and by the first World War.

The ONS said that the major contributor to the increasing number of centenarians is increased survival between age 80 and 100 due to improved hygiene and sanitation, improving food, housing and living standards and medical treatment.

The ONS found that there were proportionately more female than male centenarians in 2006 (seven woman for every man). The ratio is now beginning to fall as survival to this age becomes more common and also because recent improvements in death rates have been greater for males.

The ONS said that future numbers of centenarians would depend on both the numbers in the population today and their future survival; current population projections suggest the number of centenarians in England and Wales will increase at an annual average of 6% a year to four times the current number, reaching almost 40,000 by mid-2031.

(KMcA)

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