In twentieth-century Britain, for the first time in history, it became normal to grow old. Although, as we have seen, survival to old age was more common in past centuries than is sometimes thought, it was not until the 1930s, in Britain, that the overwhelming majority of every age cohort lived from birth to old age. This was due to the rapid decline, from the later nineteenth century, in infant mortality rates, and in deaths among adults in middle life. As Tables 10.1 and 10.2 show, expectation of life at birth almost doubled from 39 years for men, and 42 years for women in 1841 to 76 years for men and almost 81 years for women in 1991. Also, the tables show that throughout the twentieth century most old people in Britain were female. This had been so since compulsory registration of births and deaths was introduced in 1837 and probably for very much longer. 1