diamond geezer

 Monday, August 19, 2013

I felt quite old this weekend.

I went to the Shuffle Festival on Friday evening to watch Trainspotting, and I think Danny Boyle and I were the only over-40s in the audience. I met a reader of the blog on Saturday, and realised with discomfort that when I left university they hadn't even been born. I went to the Hackney Wicked Festival yesterday afternoon, which was populated by hordes of bright young things and lads with beards. And I went to birthday drinks last night where the subject of children's television came up, and one of the attendees had never heard of Brian Cant. Oh I felt quite old.

If you measure things one way, I'm not old. I could live to be over a hundred, but I'm only 48, so I'm not even halfway there yet. Viewed another way, the average UK male lives to be about 78, so I'm still thirty years short. But I still have that nagging feeling that 48 is old, based on what I see around me in London. And it turns out I may be correct.

Amongst the statistics churned out by the UK census every 10 years are several tables of Neighbourhood Statistics. These can tell you almost everything you want to know about the ward, borough, county or country in which you live. You can explore here if you like. I investigated the borough of Tower Hamlets, and then selected Age by Single Year. This table tells me how many people there are at each age from zero up to 100+, not just for Tower Hamlets but for also for the whole of London and the whole of England.

The census figures are for 27th March 2011, two years ago, back when I was 46. I was intrigued to see that 46 was then the most popular age in England - there were 795338 of us, the peak of the baby boom. But the most popular age in London wasn't 46, it was 30. People move to London in their 20s and 30s, so the peak is lower than the country as a whole. And the most popular age in Tower Hamlets was even lower, it was 27. There are more than three times as many 27 year-olds in Tower Hamlets as 46 year-olds, because the population here peaks early. I'm really not imagining it, I really am quite old for the place where I live.

Let's investigate this in a bit more depth. I'm going to split the quarter-million population of Tower Hamlets up into ten equal groups, with approximately 25000 in each. What ages make up each 10% of the population? That's the ages of the youngest 10% of residents, the next 10%, and so on up to the oldest 10%. Here's a table. The figures are for 2011 but should still be pretty much true today. And as a 48 year old, I find the data a bit scary.

Tower Hamlets Age range 
 Youngest 10% 0-6
Oldest 10%58-100+

To clarify, as a 48 year old I'm in the yellowish box, in the penultimate group. That means I'm in the oldest 20% of the population, with more than 80% of local residents younger than me. Tower Hamlets is very light on pensioners, they form less than 10% of the population. But Tower Hamlets has a lot of young people. If you want to be in the youngest half of the population you have to be aged 29 or below. Hit 30 (which is the median age) and suddenly you're one of the oldies. No wonder I felt old this weekend, I'm way over the hill... for Tower Hamlets.

Here's the split for the population of London. Where are you in this one?

London Age range 
 Youngest 10% 0-6
Oldest 10%67-100+

London is also a young place to live. The average age for Londoners is only 33, and once you pass that you're in the oldest half of the population. As a 48 year-old I'm in the third group from the top this time, which puts me in the youngest 80% (or the oldest 30%, depending on how you look at it). If you lined up the entire population of London in order of age, I'd be almost three-quarters of the way along the line. And that is relatively old, which again explains why I felt somewhat outnumbered at the weekend.

Finally here's the split for the population of England. This is rather different.

England Age range 
 Youngest 10% 0-7
Oldest 10%72-100+

England, as a whole, is rather older than London. The average age for people in England is 39 (or to be more precise 39½). In England you only enter the oldest half of the population at 40, a whole ten years after the same dividing line in Tower Hamlets. And that's because England has more older people than its capital, with almost 20% of the population of pensionable age. In England I'm in the youngest 70% of the population, indeed somewhere around two-thirds, which doesn't sound quite so old at all.

And before you start thinking "it's all these immigrants having kids innit?", it's not. The youngest quarter of the population is all those under the age of 20, whether you're in Tower Hamlets, London or the whole of England. Children and teenagers are pretty evenly spread, wherever. It's only during the 20s that the real differences begin, when internal migration kicks in, hence those median ages of Tower Hamlets 29, London 33 and England 39.

As for the point at which you enter the oldest quarter of the population, this varies considerably according to where you are. In Tower Hamlets the "oldest quarter" borderline is 40, in London it's 49 and in England it's 57. The young tend to gravitate to London for jobs, from wherever, while older Londoners head in the opposite direction and escape. I just haven't left yet... or else I may be one of the stick-in-the-muds who never do.

So there you go, at 48 I'm not old by national standards, and I shall cling to that thought for a few more years. But I am quite old for where I live, and I shall have to get used to that. Maybe someone'll even offer me a seat on the tube this morning.

<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>

click to return to the main page

...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan18  Feb18  Mar18  Apr18  May18  Jun18  Jul18
Jan17  Feb17  Mar17  Apr17  May17  Jun17  Jul17  Aug17  Sep17  Oct17  Nov17  Dec17
Jan16  Feb16  Mar16  Apr16  May16  Jun16  Jul16  Aug16  Sep16  Oct16  Nov16  Dec16
Jan15  Feb15  Mar15  Apr15  May15  Jun15  Jul15  Aug15  Sep15  Oct15  Nov15  Dec15
Jan14  Feb14  Mar14  Apr14  May14  Jun14  Jul14  Aug14  Sep14  Oct14  Nov14  Dec14
Jan13  Feb13  Mar13  Apr13  May13  Jun13  Jul13  Aug13  Sep13  Oct13  Nov13  Dec13
Jan12  Feb12  Mar12  Apr12  May12  Jun12  Jul12  Aug12  Sep12  Oct12  Nov12  Dec12
Jan11  Feb11  Mar11  Apr11  May11  Jun11  Jul11  Aug11  Sep11  Oct11  Nov11  Dec11
Jan10  Feb10  Mar10  Apr10  May10  Jun10  Jul10  Aug10  Sep10  Oct10  Nov10  Dec10 
Jan09  Feb09  Mar09  Apr09  May09  Jun09  Jul09  Aug09  Sep09  Oct09  Nov09  Dec09
Jan08  Feb08  Mar08  Apr08  May08  Jun08  Jul08  Aug08  Sep08  Oct08  Nov08  Dec08
Jan07  Feb07  Mar07  Apr07  May07  Jun07  Jul07  Aug07  Sep07  Oct07  Nov07  Dec07
Jan06  Feb06  Mar06  Apr06  May06  Jun06  Jul06  Aug06  Sep06  Oct06  Nov06  Dec06
Jan05  Feb05  Mar05  Apr05  May05  Jun05  Jul05  Aug05  Sep05  Oct05  Nov05  Dec05
Jan04  Feb04  Mar04  Apr04  May04  Jun04  Jul04  Aug04  Sep04  Oct04  Nov04  Dec04
Jan03  Feb03  Mar03  Apr03  May03  Jun03  Jul03  Aug03  Sep03  Oct03  Nov03  Dec03
 Jan02  Feb02  Mar02  Apr02  May02  Jun02  Jul02 Aug02  Sep02  Oct02  Nov02  Dec02 

eXTReMe Tracker
jack of diamonds
Life viewed from London E3

» email me
» follow me on twitter
» follow the blog on Twitter
» follow the blog on RSS

my flickr photostream