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Demographics

Animation: Population Pyramids of the 10 Largest Countries

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China and India may have similar populations today, but they have very different demographic destinies.

While China should see its population fall in the coming decades, India projects to be the most populous country in 2050 by a long shot. By that time, India will have up to 1.7 billion people – and Mumbai will be the largest megacity in the world with upwards of 42 million people.

Comparing Population Pyramids

These kind of future trends are not evident from the base population figures alone, but they become much clearer when we look at the population pyramids of countries instead.

Today’s animated chart comes from PopulationPyramid.net, and it shows a breakdown for each of the 10 most populous countries in the world:

Population Pyramids of the 10 Most Populous Countries

A population pyramid, which shows the distribution of a population in terms of age group and sex, can help us to see things like:

  • How many people are being born?
  • How long are people living?
  • The age skew of the population

Analyzing these factors can give us an idea of the direction a country is trending, and whether it will continue to grow in terms of population.

Different Makeups

Below are three typical patterns for population growth: rapid, slow, and negative.

Three patterns of population growth

How do the population charts for the top 10 countries compare, using these kinds of classifications?

Rapid growth:
According to the above graphs, India, Indonesia, Nigeria, Mexico, Brazil, Bangladesh, and Pakistan will continue to grow their populations at a rapid pace. Nigeria is growing at a particularly fast rate, and by 2060 it will displace the U.S. as the third-largest country in the world by population.

Slow growth:
The United States stands out here as the only country in the top 10 experiencing tempered growth. That said, the U.N. sees the country hitting 400 million people around the year 2060 if trends continue.

Negative growth:
China, because of its One-Child Policy from 1979 to 2015, is not a surprise to see here.

However, Russia may be an intriguing mention in this category for many – the country has a low birth rate, a low immigration rate, and an unusually high death rate. In fact, Russia’s death rate is 15 people per 1,000 – almost twice that of the U.S. due to a high amount of alcohol-related deaths and emergencies.

Economic Progress and Population

The above classifications are mostly intuitive.

With the exception of China (and its self-inflicted wound from the One-Child Policy), the countries experiencing slower or negative growth are the ones with more mature economies.

This is something that can also be seen in this below graph:

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Data Visualization

Assembling the World Country-by-Country, Based on Economy Size

How does the world map change if it gets assembled based on the size of economies, in ascending order of GDP or GDP per capita?

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If you had to sketch a world map, you’d probably start with a place that is familiar.

Perhaps you would begin by drawing your own continent, or maybe you’d focus on the specific borders of the country you live in. Then, you’d likely move to drawing the outlines of neighboring countries, eventually working your way to far and distant lands.

This would be a logical way for anyone to think about such a task, and it gives some insight as to how humans think about the world.

We start with what’s familiar, and build it out until it’s a complete picture.

Assembling the World by Economy Size

What if we assembled a world map in a completely different order?

Today’s two animations come to us from Engaging-Data, and they approach the world map from an alternate angle: assembling countries on the map in the order of their economic footprints.

GDP (Nominal)

The first map, shown below, uses nominal GDP to assemble countries in ascending order:

Country GDP

This version of the map shows the smallest economies first, with the larger economies at the end.

For this reason, the first economies appearing on the map tend to be developing nations, or nations with smaller geographical or demographic footprints.

For example, even though the Falkland Islands are wealthy on a per capita basis, the British Overseas Territory has fewer than 4,000 people, which gives it a minor footprint on a global stage.

GDP per Capita (Nominal)

Now, let’s take a look at the same map, constructed in order of GDP per capita:

Country GDP per Capita

This animation is more cohesive, given that it is not dependent on population size. Instead the order here is based on economic output (in nominal terms) of the average person in each country or jurisdiction.

In this case, developing nations appear first – and at the end, more developed regions (like Europe and North America) tend to fill out.

Note: All rankings here are in nominal terms, which use market rates to calculate comparable values in U.S. dollars, while omitting the cost of living as a factor. GDP rankings change significantly when using PPP rates.

Other Ways to Assemble the World

While assembling nations based on GDP provides an interesting way to look at the world, this same approach can be tried by applying other statistics as well.

We recommend checking out this page, which allows you to “assemble the world” based on measures like population density, life expectancy, or population.

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Demographics

Median Age of the Population in Every Country

How do countries around the world compare in terms of age? This compelling visualization shows the median age for every country in the world.

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The Median Age of the Population in Every Country

View the full-size version of the infographic by clicking here

With a few notable exceptions, the world is rapidly aging.

Today’s infographic, which was shared by Bill Gates on Reddit, shows this incredible explosion in age and how different countries contrast with one another on this demographic metric.

While aging populations in Europe, North America, and Asia stand out on this type of visualization, it’s also important to look at the negative space. In both South America and Africa, populations are still quite young, with Africa getting younger and younger.

Note: The infographic is grouped based on U.N. regional classifications, and lumps Central America, the Caribbean, and South America as one demographic region.

The Oldest Countries

Which countries are the outliers in terms of global demographics?

Let’s start by taking a look at the oldest countries in terms of median age.

RankCountryMedian AgeRegion
#1Japan47 yearsAsia
#2 (t)Germany45 yearsEurope
#2 (t)Italy45 yearsEurope
#4 (t)Greece44 yearsEurope
#4 (t)Bulgaria44 yearsEurope
#4 (t)Portugal44 yearsEurope

Japan takes the cake for the oldest population and it’s joined by a host of European nations.

The following countries tied for the #7 spot, which is just off of the above list: Austria, Croatia, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovenia, Spain, and Bermuda. All of these places had median ages of 43 years, with Bermuda being the only non-European state of this group.

It’s worth noting that some smaller countries appear to be excluded from Gates’ infographic. As we showed on our last chart covering the subject of median age, which uses a different data set, the small city-state of Monaco (which has a population of just 39,000 people) actually has the highest median age in the world at 53.1 years.

The Youngest Countries

Now, let’s take a peek at the world’s youngest countries in terms of median age.

RankCountryMedian AgeRegion
#1 (t)Chad14 yearsAfrica
#1 (t)Niger14 yearsAfrica
#3 (t)Afghanistan16 yearsMiddle East
#3 (t)Angola16 yearsAfrica
#3 (t)Burkina Faso16 yearsAfrica
#3 (t)Mali16 yearsAfrica
#3 (t)Somalia16 yearsAfrica
#3 (t)South Sudan16 yearsAfrica
#3 (t)Uganda16 yearsAfrica

The youngest countries globally are Chad and Niger with a median population age of 14 years. Both are located in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The only non-African country is war-torn Afghanistan, where the median age is 16 years.

A variety of countries tied with a median age of 17 years old, which puts them just off of the above list. Those countries include: Benin, Burundi, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Malawi, Nigeria, Tanzania, Zambia, Yemen, and Timor-Leste.

More Context on Aging

Want to get an even better idea of what the world looks like as it ages?

To get a sense of change over the coming decades, it’s worth taking a look at this animation that shows median age projections with a focus on Western countries all the way until the year 2060.

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