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Introducing ageing
Introducing ageing

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Applying the theory

Read the following article, which was featured in the Milton Keynes Citizen newspaper in 2013, and then undertake Activity 6.

MK to be OAP capital of the UK

The number of people aged 80 or over living in Milton Keynes is set to double in a decade, making the city the old age pensioner capital of Britain.

New figures reveal that public services in Milton Keynes are on course to come under huge strain within a generation as the number of elderly people increases dramatically.

The statistics come from the city’s Joint Strategic Needs Assessment published by the Milton Keynes Clinical Commissioning Group and Milton Keynes Council. It shows the number of people aged 60 or over in the borough is going to increase by about 75 per cent between 2011 and 2026, from around 40,000 to 70,000. The national average is 32 per cent.

The number of people aged over 80 is set to increase by 100 per cent from 7,200 to 14,400 over the same period.


Milton Keynes has long had a reputation for being a young, vibrant city, home to thousands of young families.

However, it is the city’s very nature which has led to such a massive increase in the size of the elderly population as men and women who moved to the area in the 1960s and 70s are now nearing retirement age.

By 2026 people aged 60 or over will make up a quarter of the borough’s total population.

(Downes, 2013)

[Milton Keynes is a ‘new town’ and has, until recently, had a relatively young population.]

Activity 6 Going beyond the headlines

Timing: Allow about 1 hour

Click on the following link to access a Word version of the newspaper extract ‘MK to be OAP capital of the UK’ [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)]   (Downes, 2013). Use the following questions to help you think critically about what it says..

  • a.Using the highlighting tool in your word processor, or a highlighter pen if you are working from paper, choose one colour to represent statistics. Highlight all the statistics that are cited in the article. Now use a second colour to highlight all the claims that are made about what these statistics mean.
  • b.The article tells us that a quarter, or 25%, of the population of Milton Keynes will be aged over 60 by 2026, but it does not tell us what percentage of the population will be aged 80 or older. Using the figures in this article, calculate this figure.

    If you need a reminder of how to calculate percentages, try searching online using a search term such as ‘how to calculate percentages’. There are plenty of sources of help. If the first one you find does not make sense to you, try looking at another one.

  • c.What further information would you need in order to find out whether Milton Keynes was going to be the OAP capital of the UK?
  • d.What assumptions about ageing does this article make? How do the concept of the Third Age and the statistics you used in Activity 5 help to counter those assumptions?
  • e.Can you think of alternative conclusions you could draw using some of the same statistics? Write the headline and first few sentences of a newspaper article giving a different spin on these figures. Do not worry too much about whether your version would really work as a newspaper article – just have a go at drawing some different conclusions.
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  • a.Click on the following link and open the Word document to see how one of the authors of this course has highlighted the document.
  • b.Watch the following animation, which shows how you should have calculated the percentage:
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  • c.In order to find out whether Milton Keynes was going to become the OAP capital of the UK, you would also need to know:
    • What percentage of people aged 60+ and 80+ will other areas have by 2026?
    • Are 25% and 5.15% actually particularly high? Is 5.15% of the population aged 80+ by 2026 an usually high proportion for a UK town, or is it quite typical?
    • How reliable are these projections?
    • Where do they come from and is it a reputable source?

While a 75% increase in the number of people aged over 60, compared to a national increase of 32% sounds big, if there were not very many people aged over 60 in 2013 it might not be remarkable. In the case of Milton Keynes, which, as the article suggests, has historically had quite a small population of older people, this increase could be Milton Keynes becoming more like the rest of the UK, rather than becoming the OAP capital.

You might also ask:

  • What is an OAP capital?
  • Is it the place with the highest proportion of people aged over 60?
  • Or is it a place that many older people choose to live?
  • Or is it a place that is particularly well-designed and welcoming for older people?

MK has always had a reputation as a youthful city – a new town, full of young families just beginning their lives together. But statistics just out show that with people who moved here in the 60s and 70s growing older, it’s also becoming a place for older people too. By 2026, 25% of the population is expected to be aged 60 and over, and the population of people aged over 80 is expected to double, as people live longer healthier lives.

  • Other headlines could be ‘Milton Keynes citizens are living longer!’ or ‘Milton Keynes is getting older and wiser!’ or ‘Volunteer army at the ready to help us all!’