UK centenarian numbers 'quadrupled in past 30 years'

An elderly person

The number of centenarians in the UK has more than quadrupled in the past 30 years, according to new figures.

The Office for National Statistics said a record 13,780 people who had reached the age of 100 were alive in 2013 - compared with 3,040 in 1983.

Last year, 710 of the centenarians were estimated to be 105 or older, the figures show.

In the past decade alone, the number of people reaching the age of 100 has increased by 71%, the ONS said.

Oldest Briton

In 2013, there were 586 female centenarians for every 100 men of the same age - this has fallen from 823 women per 100 men in 2003.

Those reaching their century now were born in the same year as poet Dylan Thomas and actor Sir Alec Guinness.

The figures also show the number of people over 90, which the ONS calls the "very old", has nearly trebled over the past 30 years. There are now 527,240 such people in the UK, making up 0.8% of the population.

The ONS report stated: "The numbers reaching very old ages continue to increase."

Survival rates are higher in England and Wales than Scotland or Northern Ireland.

In 2013, there were 840 people aged 90 and over per 100,000 in England and Wales; higher than in Scotland (707) and Northern Ireland (620), the ONS said.

The government is increasing pension ages across the UK to cope with the cost of people living longer.

The Queen sends a personal message of congratulation to anyone in the UK who reaches 100, then again at 105, and every birthday after that.

The UK's oldest person Ethel Lang celebrated her 114th birthday in May.

Life expectancy rise

The ONS also said in a separate report that between 2011 and 2013, the most common age at death in the UK was 86 for men and 89 for women.

Life expectancy in Britain has risen slightly according to the national life tables data.

A newborn baby boy could expect to live to 78.9, and a girl to 82.7, if mortality rates stayed at the 2011-13 rates throughout their lives.

The previous set of figures, released in March, put life expectancy at 78.7 for boys and 82.6 for girls.

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