35% of babies today may live to 100, but age will bring its trials


MORE THAN a third of the babies born in Britain this year could receive a 100th birthday message from whoever happens to be on the throne in the second decade of the 22nd century, according to figures published yesterday by the Office for National Statistics. The office forecasts that 35 per cent of the 826,000 people born in 2012 will live to become centenarians.

In its latest report, entitled What are the Chances of Surviving to Age 100?, the office examines the births of 423,000 boys and 403,000 girls this year. It estimates that 135,000 of the boys and 156,000 of the girls could still be alive in 2112.

A long life is not unalloyed good news. David Sinclair, head of policy and research at the International Longevity Centre UK, warned that for many the future might mean social isolation as they outlive friends and family, physical isolation as they are trapped in unsuitable housing, and poor health.

“It is of course good news that so many more people are living longer,” he said, “but there is a big but. In many ways, today’s centenarians are unrepresentative. They are people who have escaped cancer, heart attack and stroke and so they are actually healthier than many people younger than them. Now that we are getting so much better at keeping people alive, that will no longer be the case. We will be older, but in worse health, and at high risk of living alone in unsuitable accommodation.

“The other problem is that we are very poor at forward planning. We deal with the problems that are under our noses . . . When you’re talking about forecasts for a time half a century away and more, I see no evidence that we are putting in place the measures.”

The news for those turning 65 this year hoping to make it to the same milestone is less heartening: only 10 per cent of men and 14 per cent of women born in 1947 will make it to 100. Women have higher life expectancies at every age; the estimated number of female centenarians has risen from 500 in 1961 to more than 10,000 in 2010.– (Guardian service)