Thursday, August 24, 2006
UK population tops 60m
Posted by David Smith at 09:45 AM
Category: Thoughts and responses

The UK's population is increasing dramatically, up 375,000 in the year to mid-2005, to top 60m for the first time. The average age is just under 39 years. How long can these dramatic increases continue? Some argue that the UK population is already well above its optimium size. Details of the ONS release here.

Comments

I find it interesting that the economic model we use has relied heavily on immigration for most of the last century. We seem to have enshrined the notion that we have to retire on a pension at 65 as a god given right. If we live longer presumably that means we can work longer. And anecdotally there seems to be a 'use it or lose it' aspect to our physical and mental abilities. Working longer can keep us healthy (assuming that older workers are able to reduce their physical and mental stress - one shouldn't suggest panel beaters work until 75 perhaps). And the result of our unwillingness either to work longer - or to accord people at least a degree of respect for taking less appealing jobs - is that we have to accept higher levels of immigration with the rapid social change that brings about. I don't hear the anti immigration lobby calling for people's work life to be extended beyond 65.

I remember when the Greens suggested back in the 80s that the UKs population was above optimum that some chose to twist their observation and portrayed it as a call for genocide - which was not only ridiculous but offensive. Sometimes it's difficult to have a sensible debate about pressing issues in the UK.

Posted by: Jonathan at August 24, 2006 11:59 AM

Jonathon,

It's not a question of being able to work beyond 65. The economy evolves fast and industries decline. The problem is that if you are over 40 and lose your job in a declining industry, it is virtually impossible to change industries, as you are deemed too old to be able to change and nobody want to take on someone older and more experienced than them in a more junior role.

Posted by: HJHJ at August 25, 2006 10:04 AM

Perhaps that might better be put as 'not just a question of being able to work past 65'. But you make a fair point. But the long term social and economic costs of consigning people to the rubbish heap half way through their lives is huge - a drain on the economy and a burden on the working population.

It's the human equivalent of scrapping the system of glass soda bottles that carry a deposit and replacing them with plastic. We end up with human landfill

Posted by: Jonathan at August 25, 2006 11:14 AM