Number of British 100-Year-Olds Hit Record High Despite Pandemic

MARSTON MORETAINE, ENGLAND - In this handout image provided by Capture the Light Photography, Colonel Tom Moore and his daughter Hannah celebrate his 100th birthday, with an RAF flypast provided by a Spitfire and a Hurricane over his home on April 30, 2020 in Marston Moretaine, England. Colonel Moore, formerly …
Emma Sohl - Capture the Light Photography via Getty Images

The number of 100-year-olds in the United Kingdom hit a record high in the year to mid-2020, despite the Chinese coronavirus pandemic.

“While growth in the population aged 90 years and over slowed in the year to mid-2020, most likely impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, there was a large rise in the number of people aged 100 and over,” said Angele Storey, of the Centre for Ageing and Demography at Britain’s Office for National Statistics (ONS), in comments reported by The Times.

“In fact, the number of centenarians grew by almost a fifth from the previous year. This was driven by people born in the post-World War One birth spike turning 100 years old,” the state statistician explained.

“Improvements in living standards and public health over the last century have improved the chances of those born at that time surviving to age 100,” she added.

The ONS estimates reported by The Times — based on death registration data — put the total number of such centenarians at 15,120, although the newspaper did note that the increase in over-90s was 0.7 per cent compared to 3.6 per cent the year before, citing the impact of COVID-19 as a possible cause for the slowdown.

Women in the United Kingdom remain overrepresented among the long-lived, with 1.9 women to every man in the 90-94 demographic and an even starker 2.8 women to every man in the 95-99 demographic.

The Times says the longevity gap between the sexes does seem to be closing, however, with male life expectancy rising more sharply than female life expectancy over the last three years — a development the newspaper attributed to the number of men smoking falling, relatively speaking, and the contraction of jobs in heavy industry and other dangerous or health-depleting occupations, which tend to be male-dominated.

Indeed, among male centenarians the late Captain Sir Tom Moore, a Second World War veteran, even became one of the “stars” of the pandemic last year, raising money for the National Health Service (NHS) by performing a long sponsored walk with the aid of a Zimmer frame ahead of his 100th birthday.

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