Fewer people living to 100 'because of First World War’

The number of people aged over 90 has risen slightly, but fewer are living to 100 or beyond, figures suggest.

New data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows that, in 2018, there was an increase of 0.7% in the number of people aged 90 and over, from 579,776 in 2017 to 584,024 in 2018.

Men drove the increase, with a 2.8% yearly rise in the number of men aged 90 and over.

However, the rate of growth in the number of older people is slowing, with the 0.7% rise between 2017 and 2018 comparing to a 1.5% rise the year before and 2.7% the year before that.

In 2018, there were 13,170 centenarians (people aged 100 years and over) in 2018, a drop of 5% from 2017, ONS data showed.

It said the low number of births during World War One fuelled this drop, but there is expected to be a forthcoming big jump in the number of centenarians.

This is because, following the return of soldiers after the war, the number of births spiked in the latter half of 1919, around nine months after the war ended.

Some 45.4% more babies were born across the UK between mid-1919 and mid-1920 than in the year before.

Vasita Patel, from the centre for ageing and demography at the ONS, said: “The size of the population aged 90 years and over in the UK continued to grow in 2018 – driven by an increase in the number of men at these ages.

“The rise in the number of men has almost halved the gap between males and females in this age group compared with 25 years ago.

“However, we have seen a decrease in the number of people aged 100 years and over.”