I remember walking into a busy pub on a Sunday evening in Primrose Hill, North London, a few years ago and having to do a double take at the clientele. I had expected to see trendy, predominantly childless couples in their thirties, but was instead surprised to see that around two-thirds of the people in the pub had grey hair and appeared to be in their 50s and 60s.
You would expect to see that in a pub in Cornwall, but in reasonably central area of London it was rather surprising. I wondered at the time whether this was a new trend emerging - where middle-aged people soon to be claiming their pension were deciding to move into, or keep living in London, instead of the mass exodus that used to happen, when they chose to move into a bungalow on the south coast/Cornwall, or further south to France/Spain.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) provides very useful data on the exact number of people living in every London Borough by age and sex. Looking at the whole of London, the population increased from 7,153,192 in 1999 to 8,673,713 in 2015 (the most recent year available with age data). This represents an overall population increase of 21.2% in the capital. However, a great deal of that population growth came from immigration during those years and most of those immigrants were young workers in their 20s or early-30s.
It is somewhat surprising then that during that same 17-year period, the number of London residents in their 60s increased from 544,048 to 655,581, which is on a par with the overall London population increase at 20.5%. However, the number of residents in their 50s soared from 721,615 to 965,265, representing a rise of 33.8%, which is more than 50% faster than the overall population rise. So it seems that London is actually getting greyer!