The 2021 Census figures show a narrowing gap between our oldest and youngest populations. The country’s overall population grew by just over 5% between 2011 and 2021, while the 0 – 14 age group increased by just 2.96%.

By contrast, the number of over-65s normally resident in Northern Ireland grew by 25% – nearly five times the national average. In 2011, the NI Census recorded 263,700 people aged 65 and over, increasing to 326,500 – an increase of 62,800.

The Census 2021 population is recorded at 1,903,175 people, up from 1,810,863 people in 2011. On census day in 2021, there were 365,200 children aged 0 to 14, a 10,500 increase compared from the 354,700 children in 2011.

The increase in our older population, coupled with declining growth in our youngest age group, means that overall, Northern Ireland has a steadily ageing population. There has been a 0% change in NI’s population since the 1920s, having grown by just 800 from 364,400 in 1921, to 365,200 in 2021.

There has been a 221% increase in people aged 65 and over, from 101,800 in 1921 to 326,500 in 2021. The trends for these age groups is illustrated dramatically in the figure below, published by the NI Statistics & Research Agency (NISRA).


NISRA’s report predicts that over the next ten years, there could actually be more people aged 65+ living in Northern Ireland than kids aged 0 to 14, driven by the ageing post-war “baby boom” generation.

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