Census Trends: Oh we do like to be beside the seaside!


Insight into the UK’s ageing population

The impact of the UK’s ageing population has been well-documented and much debated, but just how long many of us can now expect to live, was highlighted in the latest Census data for England and Wales. It indicated some 80,000 more people over the age of 90 in 2011 compared to 2001. Delving into this data and combining it with our Mosaic consumer demographic insight we have been able to identify the places with the highest concentrations of very elderly people, provide insight into the group’s socio-demographics and highlight the impact of a growing 90-plus population.

The places in England and Wales with the highest proportion of 90+ residents are largely by the coast or are in more rural areas – this is a feature of both the 2001 and the 2011 Census data.

The South Coast seaside towns of Boscombe, Eastbourne, Hastings and Worthing have the largest concentrations of 90-plus residents of anywhere in England and Wales, with Chichester completing the top five. Some 4,000 residents – 1.65 per cent of the population (c247,000) in Boscombe are aged over 90 and 1.47 per cent (1,600) of the population c110,000) in Chichester.

Between 2001 and 2011 the places with the largest 90-plus populations remained fairly static, however there has been some movement. Evesham, Poole, Yeovil and Stratford upon Avon all saw an increase in their 90-plus populations, each moving up the rankings by at least 30 places.


Far from being impoverished and declining seaside towns, the places with the highest proportion of very elderly residents tend to be the more affluent coastal and rural towns. While many of those aged 90+ here will be struggling to maintain their own homes and gardens and manage the costs of being long retired, these people are generally living in areas with higher than average disposable household incomes and in areas with a larger concentration of the affluent Mosaic group Active Retirement (much more so than the poorer Elderly Needs Mosaic group). Overall in the top ten per cent of places for 90-plus residents there are three and a half times more people in Active Retirement than in the UK as a whole. This compares to just seven per cent more people in the group Elderly Needs compared to the UK as a whole.

Other Mosaic groups that over Index in the top ten per cent of places for percentage of population aged 90-plus include:

  • Professional Rewards – 35 per cent more people in this group compared to the UK as a whole
  • Rural Solitude – almost 2.5 times more people in this group compared to the UK
  • Small Town Diversity – over twice as many people in this group compared to UK as a whole

90-plus population in England and Wales


Impact for local authorities and local communities

Clearly a very elderly population has significant implications for their local communities, particularly around health (and disability) support, alongside wider financial advice and support such as helping the elderly claim benefits they may be entitled to.  So understanding the local population – how it is ageing and its relative affluence is essential.

In particular these communities will need to have programmes to support independent living since in general the aim is to support people living at home as long as possible. This can include home adaptations, the provision of Day Care facilities to provide advice, support and social activities as well as the provision of respite care to allow full-time carers some time off.  This approach also requires community transport provision, particularly in rural areas where public transport may be limited.

Places with more elderly populations will also require particular community policing activity, such as reassurance messages and to raise awareness around possible fraudulent door-to-door sales people.

Did you miss our other Census Trends post? You can read it here: Census Trends: Not so young, not so free but definitely single