2016-based Population Projections for Northern Ireland

Date published: 26 October 2017

National population projections by age and sex are produced every two years for the UK and each of the UK constituent countries by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) on behalf of the National Statistician and the Registrars General of Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Principal Projections are produced based on long-term assumptions about future fertility, mortality and migration levels, with variant projections being produced from various alternative assumptions – usually in the form of high/low variants and their combinations. This release for Northern Ireland coincides with releases for England, Wales and Scotland also published today by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and National Records Scotland (NRS).

The key findings are:

The population of Northern Ireland is projected to reach 2 million people by mid-2040. 

The 25 year projections highlight that the Northern Ireland population is projected to increase to 2.003 million by mid-2041, an average annual rate of growth of 0.3 per cent. Natural growth is projected to be the main driver of this population increase of 141,300 people, with 127,300 more births projected than deaths.

The projections between mid-2016 and mid-2041 also point to:

  • A 5.8 per cent reduction in the number of children (i.e. those aged 0 to 15 years), falling from 388,000 people to 365,400.
  • A 2.6 per cent reduction in the number of those aged 16 to 64 years, falling from 1.176 million people to 1.146 million.
  • A 65.1 per cent increase in the number of people aged 65 and over, rising from 297,800 people to 491,700. This marked increase, coupled with the projected reduction in the number of children, will see the number of people aged 65 and over exceeding the number of children from mid-2028 onwards.
  • The proportion of the population aged 85 and over will double from 2.0 per cent to 4.1 per cent.
  • The ratio of those aged 65 and over to those aged 16 to 64 increasing from 25 per 100 to 43 per 100.
  • While the overall growth in Northern Ireland will be lower than that is the rest of the UK (7.6 per cent compared with 11.2 per cent), our population is projected to age at a faster rate. For example, our number of people aged 85 and over is projected to grow by 127.2 per cent, compared with 107.1 per cent in the rest of the UK.

Further information including statistical tables, an infographic and a population pyramid, is available at: 2016-based Population Projections for Northern Ireland.




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