May you stay forever young, sang Bob Dylan. Number crunchers put it less poetically. Britain’s Office for National Statistics (ONS) wants to focus on remaining life expectancy, instead of years lived. That makes an ageing population look a lot more sprightly.

The proportion of Brits estimated to have 15 years of life ahead of them is largely unchanged since the 1950s. Moving the threshold of old age from 65 to 70, as the ONS proposes, would also mean the world is no longer past “peak youth”. That milestone was hit in 2018 when the number of people aged 65 and older overtook the number of children under five.

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