Today, the global population is estimated to sit at 7.91 billion people.
By the end of 2022 or within the first months of 2023, that number is expected to officially cross the 8 billion mark. Incredibly, each new billion people has come faster than the previous—it was roughly only a decade ago that we crossed the 7 billion threshold.
How did we get here, and what has global population growth looked like historically?
In this series of six charts from Our World in Data, we’ll break down how the global population got to its current point, as well as some big picture trends behind the data.
#1: Mapping the Population Over 5,000 Years
New York, São Paulo, and Jakarta were not always bustling metropolises. In fact, for long parts of the history of civilization, it was unusual to find humans congregating in many of the present-day city locations we now think of as population centers.
The human population has always moved around, seeking out new opportunity and freedoms.
As of 3,000 BC, humans could be mainly found in Central America, the Mediterranean, the Fertile Crescent, and parts of India, Japan, and China. It’s no coincidence that that agriculture was independently discovered in many of these same places during the Neolithic Revolution.
#2: The Hockey Stick Curve
For even more context, let’s zoom way out by using a timeline that goes back to when woolly mammoths still roamed the Earth:
From this 10,000-foot view, it’s clear that human population growth started going exponential around the time of the Second Agricultural Revolution, which started in the 17th century in Britain. This is when new technologies and farming conventions took root, making it possible to grow the food supply at an unprecedented pace.
Soon these discoveries spread around the world, enabling population booms everywhere.
#3: The Time to Add 1 Billion
The data and projections in this chart are a few years old, but the concept remains the same:
It took all of human history until 1803 to reach the first billion in population. The next billion took 124 years, and the next 33 years. More recent billions have come every dozen or so.
So why then, are future billion people additions projected to take longer and longer to achieve?
#4: The Growth Rate is Shrinking
Because of demographics and falling fertility rates, the growth rate of the global population has actually been on a downward trend for some time.
As this growth rate gets closer to zero, the population curve has become less exponential like we saw in the first graphs. Population growth is leveling out, and it may even go negative at some point in the future.
#5: The Regional Breakdown
Although the rate of population growth is expected to slow down, there are still parts of the world that are adding new people fast, as you can see on this interactive regional breakdown:
Since 1973, Asia has doubled its population from 2.3 billion to 4.6 billion people.
Comparatively, over the same time frame, Europe has gone from 670 million to 748 million, equal to just an 11% increase.
#6: The Present and Future of Population Growth
Population projections by groups like the United Nations see the global population peaking at around 10.9 billion people in 2100.
That said, there isn’t a consensus around this peak.
Organizations like the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) have a different perspective, and they have recently modeled that the global population will top out at 9.7 billion people by the year 2064.
As we climb to surpass the 8 billion mark in the coming months, it will be interesting to see what path humanity ends up following.
This article was published as a part of Visual Capitalist's Creator Program, which features data-driven visuals from some of our favorite Creators around the world.
Countries with the Highest (and Lowest) Proportion of Immigrants
Here, we highlight countries that are magnets for immigration, such as UAE and Qatar, as well as nations with very few foreign born residents.
Countries with the Highest Proportion of Immigrants
For people living in cosmopolitan urban centers, it’s easy to overestimate the prevalence of immigrants around the world.
The median proportion of foreign-born people in all countries is just over 5%. In countries with a population greater than one million, only four are majority foreign-born, and only eight surpass the one-third mark.
Here are the top 20 countries with the highest proportion of immigrants in their populations:
|Country||Immigrants as a percentage of population|
|🇦🇪 United Arab Emirates||88%|
|🇸🇦 Saudi Arabia||39%|
|🇳🇿 New Zealand||29%|
Source: UN via World Population Review. Note: Only countries with a population of greater than one million are included.
The United Arab Emirates comes out on top for the highest proportion of immigrants in its population. Impressively, the small Middle Eastern nation ranks sixth in the world for total immigrant population (8.7 million people).
Other countries on the Arabian Peninsula also rank at the top of this list. In Qatar, current host of the 2022 World Cup, 3-in-4 people are immigrants. The high proportion of foreign workers in the country also results in an extreme demographic skew—approximately 75% of the population of Qatar is male.
The one extreme outlier in the region is war-torn Yemen, where only 1.3% of the population are immigrants.
Outside the Middle East, Singapore (43%) takes top spot, followed by Australia (30%).
Spotlight on U.S. Immigration
Although the United States is outside the top 20, it still has by far the most immigrants of any other country (50 million vs. 16 million in second-place Germany).
About 15% of people in the U.S. are immigrants—numbers which are comparable to the historic high in the late 19th century. The proportion of foreign-born people in the country has been on the rise since the 1970s, and is projected to continue rising in coming decades. Around 2030, immigration is expected to surpass natural increases as a driver of population growth.
Countries with the Lowest Proportion of Immigrants
A few countries are magnets for immigration, while a great many more receive very little immigration. This can simply be due to lack of demand, or because of more extreme circumstances such as war or a failing economy. In other cases, immigration policies may limit the number of people who can migrate to a country.
Here are the top 20 countries with the lowest proportion of immigrants in their populations:
|Country||Immigrants as a percentage of population|
|🇰🇵 North Korea||0.19%|
|🇱🇰 Sri Lanka||0.19%|
|🇵🇬 Papua New Guinea||0.35%|
Cuba has the lowest level of foreign-born people in its population. The Caribbean nation makes it very difficult for foreign nationals obtain permanent residency.
China comes in second last. In absolute terms, the million or so immigrants living in China may sound like a lot, but pales in comparison to the overall population of 1.4 billion.
Interestingly, Japan–which is the poster child for low immigration–isn’t on the list above. The country’s foreign-born population sits at just over 2%.
Ranked: Gen Z’s Favorite Brands, Compared with Older Generations
Which brands win the most with Gen Z compared to older generations? From TikTok to Capri Sun, this ranking looks at Gen Z’s favorite brands.
Gen Z’s Favorite Brands, Compared with Older Generations
Generation Z’s favorite brands, in absolute terms, aren’t wildly different from preferences of other generations, with Walmart, Google, and Netflix ranking high. But when it comes to the brands that do the best with Gen Z compared to their elders, the list shakes up dramatically.
This ranking uses consumer preference data from Morning Consult to show which brands are favored considerably more by Gen Z when compared to the general public. A brand’s rank is determined by the difference in favorability between Gen Z’s survey responses and the average of all U.S. adult respondents.
Note: Gen Z is the generation born between 1997-2012. Favorability in this ranking is measured using the share of a generation who said they have a “very” or “somewhat” favorable opinion of said brand.
Brands Preferred by Gen Z
Compared to Millennials, Gen X, and Boomers, who may not care as much for these 20 brands, Gen Z—currently between 9-25 years old—loves them. Let’s dive in:
|Rank||Brand||Favorability Difference||U.S. Adult Favorability||Gen Z Favorability|
Note: Differences may not add up exactly due to rounding.
Unsurprisingly, TikTok takes the top spot. The app that is frequently used to poke fun at older generations and that in many ways is a reflection of Gen Z culture, is 30 points more favorable with the young generation than others.
Members of Gen Z are the first true “digital natives”—meaning they were raised in the age of digital technology. As a result, many of their favorite brands are either some kind of social media platform and/or digital service, like Apple Pay, Snapchat, or Spotify. In fact, eight of Gen Z’s top 10 favorites on the above list are digital brands.
Another distinguishing feature of consumers in this generation is that they’re more likely to care about brand ethics and sustainable consumption than other generations.
However, one brand among their top 20 that defies that sentiment is the Chinese clothing company, Shein. This fast fashion company’s model promotes a culture of mass clothing hauls and thus, clothing waste—making it far from environmentally conscious. Shein has also come under fire recently for violating labor laws in its Chinese production facilities. And yet 44% of Gen Zs have a good impression of the brand, and it particularly does well with Gen Z women.
Interestingly, members of Gen Z in the U.S. are also the first cohort to have strong awareness of Chinese brands more generally.
Gen Z vs. Millennials
Two generations that are often lumped together, Gen Z and Millennials have some considerable differences when it comes to their favorite brands. Here’s a brief look at some of the brands that do better with Gen Z compared to Millennials specifically, using favorability difference:
- TikTok: 14.2
- Crocs: 13.4
- Pixar: 8.1
- Morphe: 6.1
Compared to their generational neighbors, one interesting standout is Crocs—the utilitarian, but highly-customizable foam clogs—which almost 60% of Gen Zs see as favorable compared to only 46% of Millennials.
Gen Z’s Favorite Brands Overall
While Gen Z differentiates itself from the older generations in many ways, a lot of the overall favorites still align with everyone else’s.
Removing the favorability difference score reveals that many of the most popular brands overall still win out, such as Netflix, Google, and Amazon.
Gen Z Trends
Overall, the report found that it’s hard for brands to win with Gen Z. Across all brands that were scored, 33% of the general American public rated them as favorable, but for Gen Z respondents the number dropped to 27%.
In general, Gen Z tends to value conscious consumption and subsequently, brands that can meet those expectations. Digital services and products also do well with this generation that has never known a world without internet.
As more and more Gen Zers enter the labor market and grow their consumer power, they will be an important generation to watch.
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