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Resident population

The size of the resident population of Wakefield District is estimated to in the region of 332,000, making the District the 18th largest local authority in England and Wales. As is typical nationally, the Wakefield age profile shows the effect of baby-boom years of the 1950s and 1960s and greater numbers of women in older age than men. Overall numbers are projected to keep on increasing, albeit more slowly than elsewhere in the region, with improved life expectancy resulting in a greater proportion of the population being made up of people in older age groups.

When compared with many other metropolitan districts Wakefield’s age profile has smaller than average proportions of people in the late-teen, early 20’s age bands. This reflects the absence of any sizeable university presence within Wakefield District. In large university cities such as Leeds, by contrast, increasing levels of participation in higher education in recent decades have created a population where 9.8% of people are aged 20-24, compared to 6.0% in Wakefield District.

Wakefield follows a national picture where the population structure is shifting towards that of an ageing population. Implications of an ageing population are wide in terms of people living longer into older age, with an increased demand for health and well-being services, a reduction in working age people, a reduced contribution to the economy and lower incomes, and increased human resources for care services (paid and unpaid carers).

The total population of Wakefield is expected to rise by approximately 6,000 persons (332,000 in 2015 to 338,000 in 2018). Compared to other regional Health & Wellbeing Board areas with more urbanised populations, the growth is quite marginal.

What do things look like locally?


Resident Population Projections

Population projections are important in order to plan provision of all community services to ensure that the needs of the local population are met. The tables below illustrate that the population of Wakefield is projected to change differentially according to particular age groups.

Wakefield follows a national picture where the population structure is shifting towards that of an ageing population. Implications of an ageing population are wide in terms of people living longer into older age, with an increased demand for health and well-being services, a reduction in working age people, a reduced contribution to the economy and lower incomes, and increased human resources for care services (paid and unpaid carers).

What can we expect in the future?


There will be a major shift in the population structure over the next 5 to 10 years as the proportion of the population aged over 65 increases. The pyramids above demonstrate how the Wakefield population is projected to become flatter across the age ranges.

In terms of sheer numbers and percentage changes, this can be awkward to present in a concise and engaging manner. However, using ONS projections based on 2008 estimates, we can show how the broad age groups are likely to alter over time.

According to this data, Wakefield is expected to encounter a large population structure change within the next five years, with the older persons grouping growing by over 11% by 2016 (73,000 persons), and over 22% by 2021 (80,900 persons).By 2025 we are going to see a doubling of men aged 85 and over. By 2031, the older persons population is expected to have grown by over 50%, representing a population close to 100,000 persons.

While this is happening, the working age population is not predicted to grow at anywhere near the same level, approximately 1.6% by 2031 (about 3,300 additional persons in the theoretical workforce). Similarly, the children’s age band will grow by about 7% over the same time period.

Health and wellbeing needs increase with age, with a higher burden of chronic disease, susceptibility to the negative impacts of social isolation and an associated raised need for health and social care services and carers. Local plans should reflect this anticipated demographic shift.