Population Structure

As the people continue to live longer, healthier lives, the population structure of the UK will change. Forty years ago, in 1971, the number of young people living in the UK far surpassed the number of people over the age of 80. Today, the number of people over the age of 80 has grown considerably.

One way of visualizing and understanding the changing structure of a population is to use a population pyramid, a chart showing the number of males and number of females living in each age group of each year.

Below you can explore population pyramids for different countries over time, comparing different scenarios side by side. Choose a country and press 'play' to watch how the population structure is transformed.


1) What percentage of the UK population were women aged 80+ in 2011?

2) For the UK, were there fewer or more children aged 0-4 in 1970 than 2011? (Tip: change the units to thousands)


Classroom Activity

Requirements: Coloured Lego, fine-tip marker pen, Population Pyramids leaflet

Description: Use the coloured Lego to build example population pyramids in the classroom. We used white for the central stack and wrote on the 5 year age increments with a fine-tip marker pen. Students can then use the Lego to build up the population structures on either side of the central stack. Encourage them to re-create a structure from the leaflet, or reasearch their own using the tool above.


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The ESRC Centre for Population Change aims to improve our understanding of the extent, drivers and implications of population change in the UK and beyond.
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