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Who wants to live forever? - Where is Granny going?

Who wants to live forever?

This section looks at how a population pattern is caused by age-selective migration in the UK and discusses why some places have high numbers of older people, bringing both challenges and opportunities.

Key questions

  • What percentage of the UK population is over 65?
  • Why do some places have higher numbers of older people than others?
  • What challenges and opportunities do these high numbers of older people bring?

Key concepts

  • Place
  • Cultural Understanding and Diversity

What percentage of the UK population is over 65?

  • Seventeen per cent of the UK population is over 65 years
  • Twenty per cent of the UK population is under 16 years

Together, these form the ‘dependent' population (economically inactive). The economically active population (between 16 and 65 years), thus forms 63% of the population.

Why do some places have higher numbers of older people than others?

Some places in the UK, particularly on the south coast, for example Eastbourne and Worthing have a reputation as being retirement towns. And the reality may not be too far from this. In both Eastbourne and Worthing, 23% of the population is over 65 (six per cent more than the country average). If you compare this with the London Borough of Wandsworth, where only 10% of the population is over 65, this difference is quite significant.

There are many reasons why the over-65s might choose to retire to some areas over others, and it is important not to generalise. Some ‘pull factors' (reasons attracting people to an area) might include:

  • People are living longer and want to move somewhere pleasant and peaceful for their retirement
  • Flat land close to the sea is often accessible for older people
  • Coastal towns and cities can be more peaceful to live in than large cities
  • The scenery and views of the sea might attract older people
  • Services and healthcare for the elderly may be well established in these so-called retirement towns
  • Cleaner air and less pollution may have health benefits

What challenges and opportunities do these high numbers of older people bring?

The potential challenges of an ageing population:

  • The average age of the area's population will start to increase, resulting in a larger population of dependents
  • Local councils may need more money to pay for the cost of housing, services and healthcare for the elderly so may need to raise taxes
  • Young people may begin to leave the area as they feel that it no longer caters for them
  • Shops and services for young people may start to close down if young people leave the area
  • The area may get stuck in a ‘time warp' as older people may be more resistant to change

The potential opportunities arising from an ageing population:

  • The grey pound. Shoppers aged 65 to 74 years old splashed out an average of £4,379 each in 2007 and this is predicted to rise to £6,055 by 2017. Much of the money was spent on beauty, fashion and electrical goods
  • Levels of crime and vandalism may decrease in areas with an older population
  • People over the age of retirement may have more time to make a contribution to the local community
  • As life expectancy increases and the health of the nation improves, being 65 is not what it used to be. Look at the long list of still-working celebrities who are over 65: Des Lynam, Mick Jagger, the Queen, Sir Trevor Macdonald to name but a few




What percentage of the UK is over 60/65?

Take the quiz about UK population.



Where is Granny going?

You have already started to investigate what the distribution pattern for over-65s in the UK is like, especially in southern England.

Download the distribution map, describe the distribution patterns shown and look at the overall ‘uneven' nature of the distributions.

Download the case study for Worthing.

Population pyramids

Download the population pyramids and population graph. Answer the questions on the worksheet using these information sources.

Why is Granny going there?

Why is the distribution pattern of population in the UK uneven?

Look at the where is Granny going powerpoint and discuss as a class what the images show about life as an elderly person.

Use the causes and consequences card sort. Some of the statements describe reasons why the elderly may favour certain places rather than others. Some of the statements instead describe positive and negative impacts that the elderly may have on the areas where they live in high concentrations. Separate the statements into two clear groupings of causes and consequences.



Celebrity pensioners

Let us have a look at all of the contributions that older people make to the place you live.

Use the who am I? PoweprPoint. Do you recognise these ‘Celebrity over-60s'?

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