Thank you everyone for the congratulations and suggested names after yesterday’s post. I am quite taken by another Latin name (after Marcus) maybe Gaius? Or perhaps Caracalla? I think that we are at the moment leaning towards Thomas, but there is time enough for a change of mind. As for a photo of us in Rome, we’ll see if we can find a good one – we haven’t gone through and sorted out our photos yet. It’s incredible how many you can take in a two week period – it’s so easy on digital I suppose!
Anyway, on to a more demographical topic (at least, a less personal one!) A couple of days ago the results of the 2011 census in the UK were released. The results cover England, Wales and Northern Ireland but not, for some reason, Scotland. The figures throw up some surprises as well as some “same-old” results. Since 2001, the population of England and Wales grew by 3.7 million to 56.1 million. This is an increase of 7%, the highest rate since records began. This increase is due to a couple of things - people are now living longer in the UK. In 1911 the median age was 25, in 2011 it was 39. In 2011 there were 430,000 people over the age of 90. In 1911, the corresponding number was 13,000. Worryingly for the UK, this is driving down the support ratio (the number of working age people for each pensioner) from 5 in 1961 to just over three.
Although Daniel Hannan wonders where all the children are in Britain, there is some good news from the census – there was an increase in the number of under 5 year olds. Since 2001, the number in this age cohort rose by 400,000.
But the biggest reason why the UK’s population increased so dramatically is the “unprecedented” levels of immigration that followed from Labour taking over the Government benches in 1997. Nearly 200,000 people a year have been added to the population from immigration. This has added to the debate over immigration in the UK, and one can see what the Telegraph thinks about it all. While I am unsure of the “proper” level of immigration that the UK can sustain (or if there is one) I agree with the Telegraph that the debate is not helped by labelling anyone who challenges the status quo as a “bigot” or a “racist”.
According to Philip Johnston, Britain is facing a rapidly increasing and ageing population (despite the rise in under 5 year olds) at a time when it cannot afford to pay for the increased demand in public services. These circumstances have not been planned for he argues and the UK is facing an uncertain future because of it. I suppose the one comforting fact for UK politicians is that it is harder for pensioners to riot in response to austerity measures when the money runs out…