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Demographics

The Problem of an Aging Global Population, Shown by Country

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The Problem of an Aging Global Population, Shown by Country

The Implications of an Aging Population

The world is experiencing a seismic demographic shift—and no country is immune to the consequences.

While increasing life expectancy and declining birth rates are considered major achievements in modern science and healthcare, they will have a significant impact on future generations.

Today’s graphic relies on OECD data to demonstrate how the old-age to working-age ratio will change by 2060, highlighting some of the world’s fastest aging countries.

The Demographic Debacle

By 2050, there will be 10 billion people on earth, compared to 7.7 billion today—and many of them will be living longer. As a result, the number of elderly people per 100 working-age people will nearly triple—from 20 in 1980, to 58 in 2060.

Populations are getting older in all OECD countries, yet there are clear differences in the pace of aging. For instance, Japan holds the title for having the oldest population, with ⅓ of its citizens already over the age of 65. By 2030, the country’s workforce is expected to fall by 8 million—leading to a major potential labor shortage.

In another example, while South Korea currently boasts a younger than average population, it will age rapidly and end up with the highest old-to-young ratio among developed countries.

A Declining Workforce

Globally, the working-age population will see a 10% decrease by 2060. It will fall the most drastically by 35% or more in Greece, Japan, Korea, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland. On the other end of the scale, it will increase by more than 20% in Australia, Mexico, and Israel.

aging population chart

Israel’s notably higher increase of 67% is due to the country’s high fertility rate, which is comparable to “baby boom” numbers seen in the U.S. following the second World War.

As countries prepare for the coming decades, workforce shortages are just one of the impacts of aging populations already being felt.

Managing the Risks

There are many other social and economic risks that we can come to expect as the global population continues to age:

  • The Squeezed Middle: With more people claiming pension benefits but less people paying income taxes, the shrinking workforce may be forced to pay higher taxes.
  • Rising Healthcare Costs: Longer lives do not necessarily mean healthier lives, with those over 65 more likely to have at least one chronic disease and require expensive, long-term care.
  • Economic Slowdown: Changing workforces may lead capital to flow away from rapidly aging countries to younger countries, shifting the global distribution of economic power.

The strain on pension systems is perhaps the most evident sign of a drastically aging population. Although the average retirement age is gradually increasing in many countries, people are saving insufficiently for their increased life span—resulting in an estimated $400 trillion deficit by 2050.

Pensions Under Pressure

A pension is promised, but not necessarily guaranteed. Any changes made to existing government programs can alter the lives of future retirees entirely—but effective pension reforms that lessen the growing deficit are required urgently.

Towards a Better System

Certain countries are making great strides towards more sustainable pension systems, and the Global Pension Index suggests initiatives that governments can take into consideration, such as:

  1. Continuing to increase the age of retirement
  2. Increasing the level of savings—both inside and outside pension funds
  3. Increasing the coverage of private pensions across the labor force, including self-employed and contract employees, to provide improved integration between various pillars
  4. Preserving retirement funds by limiting the access to benefits before the retirement age
  5. Increasing the trust and confidence of all stakeholders by improving transparency of pension plans

Although 59% of employees are expecting to continue earning well into their retirement years, providing people with better incentives and options to make working at an older age easier could be crucial for ensuring continued economic growth.

Live Long and Prosper

As 2020 marks the beginning of the Decade of Healthy Ageing, the world is undoubtedly entering a pivotal period.

Countries all over the world face tremendous pressure to effectively manage their aging populations, but preparing for this demographic shift early will contribute to the economic advancement of countries, and allow populations—both young and old—to live long and prosper.

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Demographics

Ranked: The Most Populous Cities in the World

Where are the world’s largest cities in terms of population? This graphic looks at the top 20 most populous cities in the world.

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most populous cities

Ranked: The Most Populous Cities in the World

More than half of the world’s population currently lives in cities—and as time goes on, it’s clear that more urban dwellers will find themselves living in megacities.

Megacities are defined as urban areas with a population of more than 10 million people. This means that the world’s top 20 most populous cities are all megacities.

This visualization, using data from Macrotrends, shows the 20 most populous cities in the world.

Rapid Urbanization

Today, more than 80% of people in higher income countries find themselves living in urban areas, and in upper-middle income countries the number lies between 50-80%.

Rural-to-urban migration is an increasingly relevant trend in the 21st century. Prospects of better job opportunities and higher wages, along with shifts from agrarian to industrial and service-based economies, are causing mass movement to cities.

How much have the world’s five most populous cities grown in just the last decade?

RankCity 2010 Population 2020 Population Percentage Change
#1🇯🇵 Tokyo36,834,00037,393,000+1.5%
#2🇮🇳 Delhi21,935,00030,291,000+38.1%
#3🇨🇳 Shanghai19,980,00027,058,000+35.4%
#4🇧🇷 São Paulo19,660,00022,043,000+12.1%
#5🇲🇽 Mexico City 20,132,00021,782,000+8.2%

While Tokyo only gained 559,000 people between 2010 and 2020, Delhi gained over 8 million people in the same time frame.

Shanghai grew by over 7 million people. Meanwhile, São Paulo grew by more than 2 million, and Mexico City gained just over 1.6 million people.

Interestingly, Mexico City placed third on the top largest cities list in 2010, but has since experienced slower growth compared to its competitors, Shanghai and São Paulo.

The Most Populous Cities Today

While Tokyo is the world’s most populous city with 37,393,000 people, this number is leveling out due to declining birth rates and an aging population.

Indian and Chinese cities, on the other hand, will continue to grow rapidly in the coming years. In fact, it’s expected that Delhi’s population could surpass Tokyo’s by 2028.

Here’s a closer look at the top 20 most populous cities.

RankCityPopulation
1🇯🇵 Tokyo37,393,000
2🇮🇳 Delhi30,291,000
3🇨🇳 Shanghai27,058,000
4🇧🇷 São Paulo22,043,000
5🇲🇽 Mexico City21,782,000
6🇧🇩 Dhaka21,006,000
7🇪🇬 Cairo20,901,000
8🇨🇳 Beijing20,463,000
9🇮🇳 Mumbai20,411,000
10🇯🇵 Osaka19,165,000
11🇺🇸 New York City18,804,000
12🇵🇰 Karachi16,094,000
13🇨🇳 Chongqing15,872,000
14🇹🇷 Istanbul15,190,000
15🇦🇷 Buenos Aires15,154,000
16🇮🇳 Calcutta14,850,000
17🇳🇬 Lagos14,368,000
18🇨🇩 Kinshasa14,342,000
19🇵🇭 Manila13,923,000
20🇨🇳 Tianjin13,580,000

By 2035, two new cities are expected to crack the top 20 list. Specifically, it’s projected that Bangalore (India) and Lahore (Pakistan) will boot out Tianjin and Buenos Aires. In addition, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, and Chennai are all expected to meet the megacity definition by 2035.

Urban growth will continue mainly in Asia and Africa, as some cities in regions such as Europe actually begin to shrink in population due to aging citizens and declining birth rates. Since 2012, deaths in the EU have actually been outpacing births—and in 2019, there were 4.7 million deaths compared to 4.2 million births, though net migration kept population numbers from falling.

Life in the City

While there are certainly downsides to mass urbanization, like pollution and overcrowding, the upsides clearly outweigh the negatives for most people. Convenience, better jobs, easier access to social services, and higher wages are among the many reasons people are likely to continue to move to cities, even in the post-COVID era.

With the emergence of smart and green cities, the quality of life for many urban dwellers will likely continue to improve, and more large urban areas will morph into megacities.

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Misc

Visualizing the U.S. Population by Race

America is a cultural mosaic—nearly 40% identify as a visible minority today. Here we break down the U.S. population by race by state.

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US population by race

Visualizing the U.S. Population by Race

The American population is a unique mosaic of cultures—and almost 40% of people identify as racial or ethnic minorities today.

In this treemap, we use data for 2019 from the Kaiser Family Foundation, which bases its analysis on the latest American Community Survey (ACS) data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Then we break down the same data on a state-by-state basis.

Growing Diversity in America

As of 2019, here is the current distribution of the U.S. population by race and ethnicity:

  • White: 60.1% (Non-Hispanic)
  • Hispanic: 18.5%
  • Black: 12.2%
  • Asian: 5.6%
  • Multiple Races: 2.8%
  • American Indian/Alaska Native: 0.7%
  • Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander: 0.2%

Note that the U.S. totals do not include Puerto Rico.

However, these race and ethnicity projections are expected to change over the coming years. By the year 2060, it’s expected that the distribution of Non-Hispanic Whites as a percentage of total population will fall from 60.1% to 44.3% of Americans.

YearWhite*BlackHispanicAsianMultiple RacesOther**
202059.7%12.5%18.7%5.8%2.3%0.9%
202557.7%12.7%19.9%6.3%2.6%0.9%
203055.8%12.8%21.1%6.7%2.8%0.9%
203553.8%12.9%22.3%7.1%3.1%0.9%
204051.7%13.0%23.5%7.5%3.4%0.9%
204549.7%13.1%24.6%7.9%3.8%0.9%
205047.8%13.3%25.7%8.2%4.1%0.9%
205546.0%13.4%26.6%8.5%4.5%0.9%
206044.3%13.6%27.5%8.9%4.9%0.9%

Source: U.S. Census Bureau. *Excludes Hispanics **Other includes American Indian/Alaska Native (0.7%) and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander (0.2%). Both proportions remain unchanged in these projections.

Interestingly, the proportion of those from multiple racial and ethnic backgrounds will more than double, from 2.3% to 4.9% alongside rising patterns of interracial marriage.

Over time, the U.S. Census has been vastly expanded to reflect the true diversity that the country holds. In fact, it was only from 1960 onwards that people could select their own race—and only from 2020 can those who chose White or Black provide further information on their roots.

A State-by-State Breakdown

Of course, racial diversity in the United States differs widely from region to region.

In the Northeast—particularly the states Maine, Vermont, and New Hampshire—the Non-Hispanic White population accounts for 90% or more of the total. In contrast, Black populations are highest in the District of Columbia (45%) and several Southern states.

LocationWhiteBlackHispanicAsianMultiple RacesAmerican Indian
/Alaska Native
Native Hawaiian
/Other Pacific Islander
Alabama65%27%4%1%2%0%-
Alaska60%2%7%6%8%15%2%
Arizona54%4%32%3%2%4%0%
Arkansas72%15%8%2%2%1%0%
California36%5%40%15%3%0%0%
Colorado68%4%22%3%3%1%0%
Connecticut66%10%17%5%3%0%-
Delaware61%22%10%4%3%0%-
District of Columbia37%45%11%4%3%0%-
Florida53%15%27%3%2%0%0%
Georgia52%31%10%4%3%0%0%
Hawaii20%1%10%39%18%0%10%
Idaho82%1%13%1%3%1%-
Illinois61%14%18%6%2%0%<.01
Indiana79%9%7%2%2%0%-
Iowa85%4%6%2%2%0%<.01
Kansas76%6%12%3%3%1%-
Kentucky85%8%4%2%2%0%-
Louisiana59%32%5%2%2%1%-
Maine93%1%2%1%2%1%-
Maryland50%30%11%6%3%0%-
Massachusetts71%7%12%7%3%0%<.01
Michigan75%13%5%3%3%1%-
Minnesota79%6%6%5%3%1%-
Mississippi57%38%3%1%1%0%-
Missouri79%11%4%2%3%0%0%
Montana86%1%4%1%3%6%-
Nebraska79%5%11%2%2%1%-
Nevada48%9%29%9%4%1%1%
New Hampshire90%1%4%3%2%--
New Jersey55%12%21%10%2%0%-
New Mexico37%2%50%2%2%9%-
New York55%14%19%9%3%0%-
North Carolina63%21%10%3%3%1%<.01
North Dakota84%2%4%1%3%5%-
Ohio79%12%4%2%3%0%-
Oklahoma65%7%11%2%7%8%0%
Oregon75%2%13%5%4%1%0%
Pennsylvania76%10%8%4%2%0%<.01
Puerto Rico1%0%98%-0%--
Rhode Island71%6%17%3%3%0%-
South Carolina64%26%6%2%2%0%-
South Dakota82%2%4%1%2%8%-
Tennessee74%16%6%2%2%0%-
Texas41%12%40%5%2%0%0%
Utah78%1%14%2%3%1%1%
Vermont93%1%2%2%2%1%-
Virginia61%19%10%7%3%0%<.01
Washington68%4%13%9%5%1%1%
West Virginia93%3%1%1%2%0%-
Wisconsin81%6%7%3%2%1%-
Wyoming84%1%10%1%2%2%-
U.S.60.1%12.2%18.5%5.6%2.8%0.7%0.2%

Note: A dash (-) indicates estimates with relative standard errors greater than 30%, which were not included in the data

Of all the 50 states, Hawaii is home to the largest share of Asian populations at 39%. It also has one of the most diverse racial breakdowns in the nation overall, including the highest proportion of mixed race individuals.

Looking to another island, an overwhelming majority (98%) of Puerto Ricans are of Hispanic origins. While it’s not a state, its inhabitants are all considered U.S. citizens.

Charting the U.S. population by race is crucial for a number of reasons. This information can be used to better understand existing income and wealth gaps, track public health outcomes, and to aid in policy decision-making at higher levels.

We become not a melting pot but a beautiful mosaic. Different people, different beliefs, different yearnings, different hopes, different dreams.

—Jimmy Carter, 39th President of the U.S.

Editor’s note: This article has been updated to better reflect U.S. Census Bureau categories.

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