Mapped: The Median Age of the Population on Every Continent
Earlier this week, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation published their annual letter that highlights the surprises they saw in 2018, as well as the philanthropic opportunities they’ve identified for the future.
Among many other compelling facts and stories, the letter pointed out one surprise that we thought was of particular interest: the median age of the African continent is just 18 years old.
Median Ages, by Continent
Today’s chart was inspired by the Gates’ letter, and it showcases the median age of each continent along with other pertinent data points.
|North America||35 years|
|South America||31 years|
What’s interesting here is not only Africa’s median age, but also that the median age for each other continent is at least 13 years older. In other words, this means Africa is a real demographic outlier.
In their letter, Bill and Melinda Gates drop one additional fact that helps crystallize this even further: by 2100, it’s projected that nearly half of the world’s children aged 0-4 years old will be in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Median Ages, by Country
The difference in median age between Africa and Europe is quite astonishing, but the gap gets even wider when we look at individual countries.
For example, Monaco is the country with the oldest population in the world with a median age of 53.1 years – but this is roughly 3.5x higher than the median age of Niger, where it is just 15.4 years.
Here are the five oldest countries, along with the five youngest:
|Rank||Country||Median Age (Youngest)||Rank||Country||Median Age (Oldest)|
|#1||Niger||15.4 years||#1||Monaco||53.1 years|
|#2||Mali||15.8 years||#2||Japan||47.3 years|
|#3||Uganda||15.8 years||#3||Germany||47.1 years|
|#4||Angola||15.9 years||#4||Italy||45.5 years|
|#5||Zambia||16.8 years||#5||Slovenia||44.5 years|
While it is not surprising that Monaco – a small and wealthy city-state that sits on the French Riviera with a population of just 40,000 people – is the oldest country in the world, it seems that age could be a real challenge for the major economies that also make this list.
Germany, Italy, and Japan have some of the largest economies in the world with a combined nominal GDP equal to 12.2% of global output. At the same time, they are also three of the oldest countries right now, and they are each projected to hit a median age of 50 years or higher by the year 2050.
On the other end of the spectrum, there are more than 30 countries that have median ages under 20 years, with most of them existing in Africa or the Middle East. One exception to this is Timor-Leste, a small country bordering Indonesia, which has a median age of 18.9 years.
The Road to Recovery: Which Economies are Reopening?
We look at mobility rates as well as COVID-19 recovery rates for 41 economies, to see which countries are reopening for business.
The Road to Recovery: Which Economies are Reopening?
COVID-19 has brought the world to a halt—but after months of uncertainty, it seems that the situation is slowly taking a turn for the better.
Today’s chart measures the extent to which 41 major economies are reopening, by plotting two metrics for each country: the mobility rate and the COVID-19 recovery rate:
- Mobility Index
This refers to the change in activity around workplaces, subtracting activity around residences, measured as a percentage deviation from the baseline.
- COVID-19 Recovery Rate
The number of recovered cases in a country is measured as the percentage of total cases.
Data for the first measure comes from Google’s COVID-19 Community Mobility Reports, which relies on aggregated, anonymous location history data from individuals. Note that China does not show up in the graphic as the government bans Google services.
COVID-19 recovery rates rely on values from CoronaTracker, using aggregated information from multiple global and governmental databases such as WHO and CDC.
Reopening Economies, One Step at a Time
In general, the higher the mobility rate, the more economic activity this signifies. In most cases, mobility rate also correlates with a higher rate of recovered people in the population.
Here’s how these countries fare based on the above metrics.
|Country||Mobility Rate||Recovery Rate||Total Cases||Total Recovered|
Mobility data as of May 21, 2020 (Latest available). COVID-19 case data as of May 29, 2020.
In the main scatterplot visualization, we’ve taken things a step further, assigning these countries into four distinct quadrants:
1. High Mobility, High Recovery
High recovery rates are resulting in lifted restrictions for countries in this quadrant, and people are steadily returning to work.
New Zealand has earned praise for its early and effective pandemic response, allowing it to curtail the total number of cases. This has resulted in a 98% recovery rate, the highest of all countries. After almost 50 days of lockdown, the government is recommending a flexible four-day work week to boost the economy back up.
2. High Mobility, Low Recovery
Despite low COVID-19 related recoveries, mobility rates of countries in this quadrant remain higher than average. Some countries have loosened lockdown measures, while others did not have strict measures in place to begin with.
Brazil is an interesting case study to consider here. After deferring lockdown decisions to state and local levels, the country is now averaging the highest number of daily cases out of any country. On May 28th, for example, the country had 24,151 new cases and 1,067 new deaths.
3. Low Mobility, High Recovery
Countries in this quadrant are playing it safe, and holding off on reopening their economies until the population has fully recovered.
Italy, the once-epicenter for the crisis in Europe is understandably wary of cases rising back up to critical levels. As a result, it has opted to keep its activity to a minimum to try and boost the 65% recovery rate, even as it slowly emerges from over 10 weeks of lockdown.
4. Low Mobility, Low Recovery
Last but not least, people in these countries are cautiously remaining indoors as their governments continue to work on crisis response.
With a low 0.05% recovery rate, the United Kingdom has no immediate plans to reopen. A two-week lag time in reporting discharged patients from NHS services may also be contributing to this low number. Although new cases are leveling off, the country has the highest coronavirus-caused death toll across Europe.
The U.S. also sits in this quadrant with over 1.7 million cases and counting. Recently, some states have opted to ease restrictions on social and business activity, which could potentially result in case numbers climbing back up.
Over in Sweden, a controversial herd immunity strategy meant that the country continued business as usual amid the rest of Europe’s heightened regulations. Sweden’s COVID-19 recovery rate sits at only 13.9%, and the country’s -93% mobility rate implies that people have been taking their own precautions.
COVID-19’s Impact on the Future
It’s important to note that a “second wave” of new cases could upend plans to reopen economies. As countries reckon with these competing risks of health and economic activity, there is no clear answer around the right path to take.
COVID-19 is a catalyst for an entirely different future, but interestingly, it’s one that has been in the works for a while.
Without being melodramatic, COVID-19 is like the last nail in the coffin of globalization…The 2008-2009 crisis gave globalization a big hit, as did Brexit, as did the U.S.-China trade war, but COVID is taking it to a new level.
—Carmen Reinhart, incoming Chief Economist for the World Bank
Will there be any chance of returning to “normal” as we know it?
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