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Demographics

Charted: The World’s Working Poor, by Country (1991-2021)

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Breakdown of poverty rates among employed people

Charting Three Decades of the World’s Working Poor

Poverty is often associated with unemployment—however, millions of working people around the world are living in what’s considered to be extreme poverty, or less than $1.90 per day.

Thankfully, the world’s population of poor workers has decreased substantially over the last few decades. But how exactly has it changed since 1991, and where is the majority of the working poor population living today?

This graphic by Gilbert Fontana uses data from the International Labour Organization (ILO) to show the regional breakdown of the world’s working poor, and how this demographic has changed in the last few decades.

From Asia to Africa

In 1991, about 808 million employed people were living in extreme poverty, or nearly 15% of the global population at the time.

As the graphic above shows, a majority of this population lived in Eastern Asia, most notably in China, which was the world’s most populous country until only very recently.

However, thanks to China’s economic reforms, and political reforms like the National “8-7” Poverty Reduction Plan, millions of people in the country were lifted out of poverty.

Today, Sub-Saharan Africa is the region with the world’s highest concentration of working poor. Below, we’ll take a closer look at the region and zoom in on select countries.

Zooming in on Sub-Saharan Africa

As of 2021, 11 of the 49 countries that make up Sub-Saharan Africa had a working poverty rate that made up over half their population.

Here’s a look at these 11 countries, and the percentage of their working population that lives in extreme poverty:

RankCountryWorking Poverty Rate (% of total population)
1🇧🇮 Burundi79%
2🇲🇬 Madagascar76%
3🇨🇩 DR Condo69%
4🇲🇼 Malawi65%
5🇨🇫 Central African Republic63%
6🇬🇼 Guinea-Bissau61%
7🇲🇿 Mozambique61%
8🇨🇬 Congo59%
9🇿🇲 Zambia56%
10🇦🇴 Angola52%
11🇱🇷 Liberia51%

Burundi is first on the list, with 79% of its working population living below the poverty line. One reason for this is the country’s struggling economy—Burundi has the lowest GDP per capita of any country in the world.

Because of the economic conditions in the country, many people struggle to meet their basic needs. For instance, it’s estimated that 40% of urban dwellers in Burundi don’t have access to safe drinking water.

But Burundi is not alone, with other countries like Madagascar and the Democratic Republic of the Congo also having more than two-thirds of their working population in extreme poverty. Which countries will be able to able to lift their people out of poverty next?

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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.

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Demographics

Map: The World’s Oldest and Youngest Countries, by Median Age

The median age is a single indicator of the age distribution of a population, useful for policy planning for the world’s oldest and youngest countries.

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A cropped map of the world’s oldest and youngest countries by median age, per 2024 estimates.

Mapped: The World’s Oldest and Youngest Countries

This was originally posted on our Voronoi app. Download the app for free on iOS or Android and discover incredible data-driven charts from a variety of trusted sources.

We visualize the world’s oldest and youngest countries by median age, based on 2024 estimates from the CIA World Factbook.

ℹ️ The median age is a single indicator of the age distribution of a population—where half the population is older and half is younger than the listed age.

It can help government and private companies plan for age-specific demand for goods and services from the resident population.

Ranked: Countries by Median Age in 2024

Monaco and Japan—two countries with high life expectancies and low birth rates—have some of the highest median ages (50+) in the world.

A high median age is indicative of an aging population. Without policy support, this can lead to economic ramifications.

Here are the median ages of 200+ countries and territories in the world.

RankCountry/TerritoryMedian Age
1🇲🇨 Monaco57
2🇵🇲 Saint Pierre & Miquelon51
3🇯🇵 Japan50
4🇦🇩 Andorra49
5🇮🇹 Italy48
6🇧🇱 Saint Barthelemy47
7🇭🇰 Hong Kong47
8🇪🇸 Spain47
9🇩🇪 Germany47
10🇬🇷 Greece47
11🇵🇹 Portugal46
12🇸🇮 Slovenia46
13🇵🇷 Puerto Rico46
14🇸🇲 San Marino46
15🇰🇷 South Korea46
16🇷🇴 Romania46
17🇱🇻 Latvia46
18🇱🇹 Lithuania45
19🇧🇬 Bulgaria45
20🇭🇷 Croatia45
21🇸🇭 Saint Helena45
22🇪🇪 Estonia45
23🇬🇬 Guernsey45
24🇦🇹 Austria45
25🇺🇦 Ukraine45
26🇮🇲 Isle of Man45
27🇭🇺 Hungary45
28🇧🇦 Bosnia & Herzegovina45
29🇹🇼 Taiwan45
30🇱🇮 Liechtenstein44
31🇨🇿 Czechia44
32🇨🇭 Switzerland44
33🇷🇸 Serbia44
34🇧🇲 Bermuda44
35🇲🇹 Malta44
36🇫🇮 Finland43
37🇻🇮 Virgin Islands43
38🇵🇱 Poland43
39🇸🇰 Slovakia43
40🇨🇦 Canada43
41🇫🇷 France43
42🇨🇺 Cuba43
43🇲🇴 Macau43
44🇳🇱 Netherlands42
45🇩🇰 Denmark42
46🇧🇾 Belarus42
47🇧🇪 Belgium42
48🇷🇺 Russia42
49🇹🇭 Thailand42
50🇧🇧 Barbados41
51🇰🇾 Cayman Islands41
52🇸🇪 Sweden41
53🇨🇰 Cook Islands41
54🇲🇪 Montenegro41
55🇸🇽 Sint Maarten41
56🇦🇼 Aruba41
57🇳🇴 Norway41
58🇬🇧 UK41
59🇲🇰 North Macedonia41
60🇮🇪 Ireland40
61🇨🇳 China40
62🇨🇨 Cocos (Keeling) Islands40
63🇲🇩 Moldova40
64🇱🇺 Luxembourg40
65🇱🇨 Saint Lucia40
66🇲🇺 Mauritius40
67🇨🇾 Cyprus40
68🇸🇬 Singapore39
69🇺🇸 U.S.39
70🇦🇲 Armenia39
71🇸🇨 Seychelles39
72🇰🇳 Saint Kitts & Nevis39
73🇹🇹 Trinidad & Tobago39
74🇻🇬 British Virgin Islands39
75🇬🇪 Georgia38
76🇯🇪 Jersey38
77🇦🇺 Australia38
78🇨🇽 Christmas Island38
79🇮🇸 Iceland38
80🇳🇿 New Zealand38
81🇨🇼 Curacao38
82🇻🇨 Saint Vincent & the Grenadines38
83🇦🇮 Anguilla37
84🇩🇲 Dominica37
85🇨🇱 Chile37
86🇫🇴 Faroe Islands37
87🇲🇸 Montserrat37
88🇬🇮 Gibraltar37
89🇺🇾 Uruguay37
90🇱🇧 Lebanon36
91🇦🇱 Albania36
92🇼🇫 Wallis and Futuna36
93🇹🇨 Turks and Caicos Islands36
94🇰🇵 North Korea36
95🇦🇪 United Arab Emirates36
96🇨🇷 Costa Rica36
97🇬🇩 Grenada35
98🇵🇫 French Polynesia35
99🇵🇼 Palau35
100🇬🇱 Greenland35
101🇧🇷 Brazil35
102🇹🇳 Tunisia34
103🇳🇨 New Caledonia34
104🇦🇿 Azerbaijan34
105🇶🇦 Qatar34
106🇲🇫 Saint Martin34
107🇱🇰 Sri Lanka34
108🇹🇷 Türkiye34
109🇦🇬 Antigua and Barbuda34
110🇮🇷 Iran34
111🇧🇭 Bahrain33
112🇦🇷 Argentina33
113🇻🇳 Vietnam33
114🇨🇴 Colombia33
115🇸🇦 Saudi Arabia32
116🇲🇵 Northern Mariana Islands32
117🇧🇳 Brunei32
118🇸🇷 Suriname32
119🇽🇰 Kosovo32
120🇲🇻 Maldives32
121🇰🇿 Kazakhstan32
122🇲🇾 Malaysia32
123🇵🇾 Paraguay32
124🇫🇯 Fiji32
125🇮🇩 Indonesia32
126🇲🇳 Mongolia32
127🇵🇦 Panama32
128🇹🇲 Turkmenistan31
129🇻🇪 Venezuela31
130🇯🇲 Jamaica31
131🇲🇲 Burma31
132🇲🇽 Mexico31
133🇧🇸 Bahamas31
134🇧🇹 Bhutan31
135🇲🇦 Morocco31
136🇿🇦 South Africa30
137🇬🇺 Guam30
138🇰🇼 Kuwait30
139🇵🇪 Peru30
140🇮🇱 Israel30
141🇦🇸 American Samoa30
142🇮🇳 India30
143🇸🇻 El Salvador30
144🇧🇩 Bangladesh30
145🇩🇴 Dominican Republic29
146🇩🇿 Algeria29
147🇳🇮 Nicaragua29
148🇺🇿 Uzbekistan29
149🇨🇻 Cabo Verde29
150🇬🇾 Guyana28
151🇰🇬 Kyrgyzstan28
152🇫🇲 Micronesia, Federated States of28
153🇪🇨 Ecuador28
154🇰🇭 Cambodia28
155🇹🇻 Tuvalu28
156🇳🇷 Nauru28
157🇳🇵 Nepal28
158🇼🇸 Samoa27
159🇴🇲 Oman27
160🇰🇮 Kiribati27
161🇧🇼 Botswana27
162🇧🇿 Belize27
163🇧🇴 Bolivia27
164🇩🇯 Djibouti26
165🇱🇾 Libya26
166🇹🇴 Tonga26
167🇵🇭 Philippines26
168🇭🇳 Honduras26
169🇲🇭 Marshall Islands26
170🇱🇦 Laos25
171🇸🇧 Solomon Islands25
172🇯🇴 Jordan25
173🇭🇹 Haiti25
174🇬🇹 Guatemala25
175🇸🇿 Eswatini25
176🇻🇺 Vanuatu25
177🇪🇬 Egypt24
178🇸🇾 Syria24
179🇱🇸 Lesotho24
180🇵🇰 Pakistan23
181🇹🇯 Tajikistan23
182🇳🇦 Namibia23
183🇰🇲 Comoros23
184🇮🇶 Iraq22
185🇲🇷 Mauritania22
186🇬🇶 Equatorial Guinea22
187🇬🇦 Gabon22
188🇾🇪 Yemen22
189🇵🇸 West Bank22
190🇵🇬 Papua New Guinea22
191🇬🇭 Ghana21
192🇪🇷 Eritrea21
193🇲🇬 Madagascar21
194🇿🇼 Zimbabwe21
195🇨🇮 Cote d'Ivoire21
196🇰🇪 Kenya21
197🇸🇹 Sao Tome & Principe21
198🇷🇼 Rwanda21
199🇹🇬 Togo21
200🇨🇬 Congo21
201🇹🇱 Timor-Leste21
202🇨🇫 Central African Republic20
203🇪🇹 Ethiopia20
204🇲🇼 Malawi20
205🇬🇲 Gambia20
206🇦🇫 Afghanistan20
207🇱🇷 Liberia20
208🇵🇸 Gaza20
209🇬🇳 Guinea19
210🇸🇱 Sierra Leone19
211🇳🇬 Nigeria19
212🇸🇩 Sudan19
213🇸🇳 Senegal19
214🇹🇿 Tanzania19
215🇸🇴 Somalia19
216🇨🇲 Cameroon19
217🇸🇸 South Sudan19
218🇧🇫 Burkina Faso19
219🇿🇲 Zambia18
220🇧🇮 Burundi18
221🇬🇼 Guinea-Bissau18
222🇲🇿 Mozambique17
223🇧🇯 Benin17
224🇨🇩 DRC17
225🇹🇩 Chad17
226🇲🇱 Mali16
227🇦🇴 Angola16
228🇺🇬 Uganda16
229🇳🇪 Niger15

Note: Figures rounded.

Meanwhile, the presence of six European nations on the oldest countries list is a quick insight into the continent’s changing demographic. The UN estimates that one in four Europeans are currently aged 60 and over.

Conversely, many countries in Africa have low life expectancies and high birth rates. This results in the opposite phenomenon: lower median ages.

A low median age also has its own concerns. A higher proportion of children and adolescents can strain the education infrastructure. Without enough job growth, underemployment and unemployment can rise.

However, if managed well, low median ages can lead to a demographic dividend, where the workforce temporarily grows faster than the dependent population, increasing per capita income.

Continue Reading
Visualizing Asia's Water Dilemma

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