From Cohort to Communications: Connecting with the Over 50's

Fiona Wood
Central Office of Information

Jill Armstrong
Stimulating World


The latest Common Good research programme,(1) a government funded study run by the COI's Research Unit, focuses on helping government departments communicate more effectively with older people. Aiming to take a look at the world through the eyes of older people themselves, this study set out to challenge some of the myths and stereotypes that surround this audience, and to identify new ways of targeting them by exploring how their experience of ageing impacts upon how they want to be addressed.

There is a wider and increasing interest in this target audience in the public sector and beyond. Over 65s are a growing demographic within the UK and the rest of Europe. According to the 2001 Census, there are currently 9.4 million people aged 65 or over in the UK, accounting for 16% of the total population.(2) According to the Government Actuary's Department, this is projected to increase to over 15 million (or 23% of the population) by 2031. This growth has been particularly marked among the 'older old' of 85 years and beyond, who currently account for around 12% of the 9 million, or just over 1 million people; as life expectancy increases, it is expected that this group will double in size by 2031, to 2.5 million people.(3)