The number of older women without children is expected to treble over the next 25 years, resulting in an increased demand for paid-for social care, according to new data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS).
In 2019, there were estimated to be 23,000 women aged 80 in England and Wales who did not have children. By 2045, this is projected to increase to 66,000.
This is because women born in the peak of the 1960s baby boom, currently aged in their mid-50s, are twice as likely not to have had children as women born immediately after the Second World War, currently aged in their mid-70s.
This, coupled, with increases in life expectancy, is “likely to increase the demand for paid-for care”, the ONS said.
The study shows that nearly half of people aged 85 and over living in a household receive informal care from a friend or relative, compared with 20% who receive care from a formal provider.
While spouses are often providers of care and are the most common provider for those aged 65 to 74 years, at older ages, spouses may no longer be able to provide care, have care needs themselves or become widowed.
When care needs become greatest, children are the most common providers of informal care, with just over three in 10 people aged 85 years and over receiving informal care from their children.
Researchers looked at birth registration data of women born after the First World War, after the Second World War and the 1960s to compile the analysis.
Although it is not possible to estimate the proportion of men who are childless using birth registration data, survey data suggests that levels of childlessness among men in the large post-WW2 and 1960s cohorts, are similar to those for women in these cohorts.
The ONS has warned that there are currently a “substantial” unmet care needs among today’s older population, and these needs are “likely to increase” as the large 1960s cohort reach older ages.