The 90 years and over population continues to increase despite a decline in births in England and Wales 90 years ago; this reflects improvements in mortality going back many decades, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Figures released showed that life expectancy at birth in the UK declined slightly in the period 2015 to 2017 after many years of increasing. ONS says that life expectancy declined by 0.1 years in the period, levelling off at 79.2 years for males and 82.9 years for females.

In 2017 there were 579,776 people aged 90 years and over living in the UK, including 14,430 centenarians.
The number of centenarians decreased slightly between 2016 and 2017, reflecting low numbers of births during World War One, but is expected to continue to increase again from 2019.

The number of centenarians has increased by 85% over the last 15 years, although centenarians still make up only 2.5% of those aged 90 years and over. The sex ratio at older ages also continues to narrow, with two women aged 90 to 94 years for every man in that age group, and fewer than five women for every male centenarian.

Across the UK, Wales has the highest proportion of residents aged 90 years and over, and the highest proportion of centenarians.

Ngaire Coombs, Centre for Ageing and Demography, Office for National Statistic, said: “We are continuing to see higher numbers of people aged 90 years and over in the UK due to improvements in mortality going back many decades. While we have seen growing numbers of centenarians in recent years, there has been a slight decrease between 2016 and 2017. This is due to lower numbers of births during World War One. The number of centenarians is likely to increase again from 2019 in line with historic birth patterns.”