FASCINATING figures have predicted how Lancashire’s population makeup will change in the next 30 years - leaving the Red Rose county with a more silvery hue.
Projections published by Lancashire County Council show by 2039 the number of over 65s will increase by 47 per cent to 343,079.
Understanding the size and characteristics of the population is vital when it comes to planning and delivering services like education, transport and healthcare.
The latest population projections cover up to 2039 for Lancashire’s 14 local authorities and six clinical commissioning groups.
By 2039 it is thought the county’s population will increase by 4.5 per cent, resulting in an expected population of 1.538 million - though this is significantly lower than the expected increase for England of 16.5 per cent.
However, there will a significant change in the age makeup as people live longer.
The report says: “It is clear that not only is the population ageing but that the proportion in the older age groups, seventy plus, is forecast to increase at a faster rate than those in younger age groups in both the short, medium and long-term.”
For the next ten years, the number of children aged 0 to 15 in the county will rise but will then fall.
The working age population is also predicted to start to decline within five years.
But Lancastrians born in the baby boom just after the Second World War will reach their late 80s by 2035 – and are more likely to reach that age than the previous generation.
By 2039, there will be 68,947 aged 85 and above.
The impact of the ageing population on health and social care services is hard to predict.
County Councillor Tony Martin, cabinet member for adult and community services, said: “Like the rest of the country, changes in the makeup of the population mean that there are now many more older people living in Lancashire.
“Older people are making a huge contribution to our economy as they are employed in a variety of businesses where their experience and skills are invaluable.
“They also work on volunteering programmes supporting many charities to help them with their important local activities.
“However, the fact that people are living longer does have an impact on services such as social care and the National Health Service.
“We will continue to work with other organisations to do all we can to ensure people stay fitter for longer so they are less likely to rely on social care and can live independently in their own homes for as long as possible.”
Some fear with life expectancy increasing, the ageing population will affect a number of areas, including pensions and the health service, healthcare and housing.
But other organisations say it may create new economic and social opportunities, and as people are working later in life it will increase the size and productive capacity of the workforce.
The Royal Voluntary Service (formerly the WRVS) have estimated over-65s make a net contribution to the UK economy of £40 billion through tax payments, spending power, donations to charities and volunteering.
Today, David McCullough, chief executive, said: “Older people have so much to offer; their experience, skills and talents would be worth a fortune in the job market, yet many choose to be generous with their time and volunteer. Sadly we are failing to realise and harness this talent as much as we could.
“We need to do more to motivate older adults to volunteer which will provide the help that is so desperately needed and at the same time, will give them an opportunity to meet new people and to remain active and engaged in their local community.
“Volunteering in retirement should be normalised so it becomes a little like work experience for young people; a must have part of their post work plans.
“It’s vital to engage older people before they leave a company and to achieve this the voluntary sector needs to work with Government and Lancashire’s businesses to convince future retirees to include volunteering when planning the next phase of their life.”
Health and social care thinktank The Kings Fund, says older people contribute financially through a variety of routes, including a spending power of £76 billion, which could rise to £127 billion by 2030, and the provision of social care - worth £34 billion - will grow to £53 billion by 2030.
It also says volunteering, which many older people do, has a hidden value of £10 billion annually.
Population change occurs as a result of births, deaths and net migration (the difference between immigration and emigration).
These factors may also affect the age and sex structure of the population.
A boy born in the UK in 1980 could expect to live 84.7 years on average, but a boy born today will live for an average of 91 years - by 2037 it is projected to be 94.3 years.
A girl born in 1980 could expect to live 88.8 years on average, but a girl born today may live for 94.3 years - and on current assumptions, by 2037 a staggering 97.3 years.