UK: Number of women over 80 without children set to triple in 25 years
A steep rise in the number of people reaching old age without having children to look after them will place a huge strain on the social care system, researchers have warned.
The Office for National Statistics is projecting that the number of women aged 80 without children will triple in the next 25 years.
Women born in the middle of the 1960s baby boom are twice as likely to be childless than those born immediately after the Second World War, figures show.
With three in 10 adults aged 85 and over receiving informal care from their children, it’s feared a substantial ‘unmet need’ will be created in the social care sector, especially in care homes, come the middle of this century.
Campaigners have called for the Government to introduce a fairer funding model for later-life care before being hit with this extra strain.
Helen Walker, chief executive of Carers UK, said: ‘Given there is already huge unmet need for formal care in this country, it is staggering to think about the sky-high level of demand that will be placed on our care system and unpaid carers in the next 25 years if urgent action isn’t taken by the Government.’
Researchers looked at birth registration data in three groups; those born after the First World War, now in their late 90s, after the Second World War, now in their 70s, and during the 1960s baby boom, now in their 50s.
Currently, there are 20,892 women aged 80 estimated to be without children in England and Wales.
By 2045, when the 1960s cohort will enter their 80s, the number of women aged 80 without children is expected to have more than tripled to 66,313.
It’s not possible to estimate the number of childless men from the births data, but separate analysis suggests there are similar levels of childlessness to women in the post WW2 and 1960s groups.
This number does not include older people whose children have died before them, are unable to help because they live far away or have their own care needs, or are unwilling to help because they are estranged. But it may include women with step or adopted children.
Reasons for the 1960s cohort remaining childless could include an increase in female employment, more women attending university, and a change in attitudes towards having children, the ONS said.
Catherine Foot, the director of evidence at the Centre for Ageing Better, said it further proves that society needs to ‘wake up’ to the implications of an ageing population, adding: ‘As these figures show, the number of people entering later life without children is set to dramatically increase in the years to come – with serious knock-on effects on the demand for social care.
‘Without action to fix our social care system, we risk sleepwalking into a crisis.’
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: ‘Putting social care on a sustainable footing is one of the biggest challenges that our society faces.
‘We are giving these long-term, complex challenges our full consideration and will bring forward a plan that supports the social care sector, the individuals and the families that use it long into the future.’
Quote of the Day
Politicians are people who, when they see light at the end of the tunnel, go out and buy some more tunnel.