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Visualizing the World’s Plummeting Fertility Rate

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A line chart tracing the world's falling fertility rates to 2.3 in 2020 along with a heatmap of countries with higher (darker) or lower (lighter) fertility rates

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Visualizing the World’s Plummeting Fertility Rate

At the dawn of the 19th century, the world population hit a big milestone: 1 billion people.

Over the next 220 years, the number grew to eight times that, or the 8 billion people who live on the planet today, with half of the growth occurring since 1975.

This continuous climb in global population has been possible thanks to advancements in healthcare and nutrition. However, the UN forecasts that rapid growth will slow down—and may even stop entirely by 2100—because of falling fertility rates.

What does that mean for modern nation states conditioned to expect a constant influx of new citizens and labor to power their economies? And how can those changing economies adapt to a shrinking population?

To understand that, we need to first untangle fertility rates, and why they’re falling.

Explained: Fertility and Replacement Rates

The total fertility rate is the average number of births per woman over a lifetime. This measurement makes two key assumptions, however:

  • The woman will live to the end of her childbearing years
  • The woman will bear children according to the age-specific fertility rates currently observed

Both assumptions add some uncertainty to future fertility rate projections. However, decades of past data collected by the World Bank help show some overall trends around the world, and in many countries.

ℹ️ The age-specific fertility rate (ASFR) “measures the annual number of births to women of a specified age or age group per 1,000 women in that age group,” according to the UN.

The world fertility rate (expressed as the number of children per woman) has been falling steadily since the 1970s.

In 2020, the world’s fertility rate stood at 2.3, slightly above the replacement rate of 2.1 births per woman, which allows for one generation to replace itself. This is down more than two times from 4.7 in 1960.

But the world’s average hides the vast disparities between the fertility rate of countries. We dive into the differences below.

Which Country has the Highest Fertility Rate?

According to the UN, nearly two-thirds of the world’s population lives in a region where the fertility rate is below the critical 2.1 threshold. In the table below, countries are ranked from the highest to lowest average births per woman in 2020.

RankCountry Name19601975199020052020
1Niger7.537.547.817.626.89
2Somalia7.257.037.447.486.42
3Chad6.256.887.227.136.35
4Dem. Rep. of Congo6.086.426.706.606.21
5Mali7.007.247.256.726.04
6Central African Republic5.815.896.055.855.99
7Angola6.717.497.276.465.37
8Nigeria6.366.776.466.075.31
9Burundi7.007.247.376.715.18
10Benin6.286.856.735.685.05
11Burkina Faso6.256.917.016.184.87
12Tanzania6.737.006.205.614.80
13Gambia6.256.416.225.724.78
14Afghanistan7.287.547.576.914.75
15Mozambique6.326.696.225.614.71
16Uganda6.947.237.046.574.69
17Cameroon5.656.396.395.414.54
18South Sudan6.726.927.996.174.54
19Sudan6.656.936.175.044.54
20Guinea6.116.376.635.704.49
21Cote d'Ivoire7.697.916.735.464.47
22Mauritania6.356.686.065.194.46
23Senegal7.007.256.405.194.45
24Zambia7.127.396.535.714.38
25Equatorial Guinea5.655.795.995.564.35
26Togo6.727.156.135.074.32
27Ethiopia6.887.147.245.974.24
28Rep. of Congo6.096.365.214.664.23
29Liberia6.396.746.375.524.17
30Guinea-Bissau5.926.156.515.454.09
31Sierra Leone6.186.556.575.814.08
32Comoros6.797.126.505.034.05
33Solomon Islands6.977.075.664.484.04
34Samoa7.656.684.934.374.00
35Malawi7.037.406.815.914.00
36Eritrea6.486.596.344.933.93
37Madagascar7.307.106.165.103.92
38Sao Tome & Principe6.246.535.834.963.89
39Yemen7.948.408.615.583.89
40Rwanda8.198.226.875.443.87
41Vanuatu6.866.095.034.163.78
42Ghana6.856.775.714.543.62
43West Bank & GazaNANA6.784.843.57
44Pakistan6.806.816.364.643.56
45Iraq5.306.885.884.483.55
46Gabon4.425.395.464.213.55
47Zimbabwe7.226.984.873.673.55
48Kenya7.637.886.134.783.40
49Namibia6.216.545.323.563.35
50Kiribati6.555.034.643.803.33
51Papua New Guinea6.026.075.184.223.27
52Tonga6.895.434.644.183.27
53Timor-Leste6.325.195.815.713.25
54Tajikistan6.556.605.343.443.24
55Tuvalu4.783.503.913.633.19
56Kazakhstan4.533.392.722.223.13
57Lesotho5.825.904.763.443.05
58Kyrgyzstan5.384.663.632.503.00
59Egypt6.795.804.483.152.96
60Algeria7.507.374.562.562.94
61Israel3.873.552.822.842.90
62Mongolia6.837.134.232.032.90
63Uzbekistan6.615.894.072.362.90
64Eswatini6.756.755.253.682.89
65Jordan7.677.895.483.782.87
66Haiti6.215.695.483.832.87
67Djibouti6.836.775.983.992.85
68Botswana6.636.584.493.082.84
69Syria7.497.475.383.812.80
70Philippines7.155.604.353.492.78
71Micronesia6.696.684.963.602.75
72Turkmenistan6.595.904.242.662.70
73Oman7.257.756.613.052.69
74Bolivia6.365.794.893.562.65
75Guam5.913.913.052.762.59
76Lao6.296.296.083.672.54
77Libya7.377.964.972.772.51
78Paraguay6.505.214.553.042.50
79Fiji6.464.103.412.892.50
80Guatemala6.966.415.483.972.48
81Saudi Arabia7.637.375.833.242.47
82Guyana6.374.503.072.842.42
83South Africa6.165.193.722.512.40
84Honduras7.466.865.293.552.39
85Cambodia6.254.105.643.242.38
86Suriname6.614.733.272.752.37
87Morocco7.046.274.022.572.35
88Nicaragua7.166.504.602.772.35
89Panama5.844.423.102.672.34
90Dominican Republic7.565.243.412.612.30
91Faroe IslandsNA2.902.802.602.30
92World4.704.083.312.602.30
93SeychellesNANANA2.202.29
94Venezuela, RB6.364.693.452.632.23
95Peru6.945.713.912.692.22
96Indonesia5.555.043.102.432.19
97Myanmar5.985.293.542.552.17
98Kuwait7.166.093.322.662.14
99Tunisia6.946.033.471.982.11
100Lebanon5.824.563.302.202.10
101Nepal6.035.755.213.142.06
102Ecuador6.725.433.742.802.05
103India5.925.204.052.962.05
104New Caledonia6.283.703.182.202.04
105Virgin Islands5.453.632.992.242.03
106Grenada6.744.023.492.342.02
107GreenlandNA2.352.442.382.02
108Bangladesh6.786.744.482.812.00
109Sri Lanka5.473.792.522.282.00
110Belize6.506.284.703.132.00
111Georgia2.942.532.311.611.97
112Vietnam6.285.643.601.961.96
113Turkiye6.385.073.132.221.92
114Argentina3.083.303.032.431.91
115Cabo Verde6.896.775.392.931.91
116Mexico6.765.793.452.501.91
117Gibraltar3.012.622.441.701.86
118Bahrain7.155.623.762.621.83
119France2.852.091.771.941.83
120El Salvador6.635.683.952.461.82
121Malaysia6.414.523.372.331.82
122North Korea3.573.052.351.961.82
123Qatar6.656.104.182.581.82
124St. Vincent & the Grenadines7.294.982.832.071.81
125Brunei Darussalam6.844.993.292.021.80
126Moldova3.332.532.391.531.77
127Montenegro3.502.401.941.691.75
128Colombia6.744.403.082.261.74
129Iceland4.292.652.302.051.72
130Maldives6.807.196.092.241.71
131Czechia2.092.431.901.291.71
132Iran7.306.014.861.781.71
133French Polynesia5.894.713.442.191.71
134Azerbaijan5.884.182.742.001.70
135Denmark2.571.921.671.801.67
136Sweden2.171.772.131.771.66
137Brazil6.064.422.911.971.65
138U.S.3.651.772.082.061.64
139Trinidad and Tobago5.353.242.381.681.63
140Ireland3.783.372.111.861.63
141Barbados4.332.391.741.791.63
142New Zealand4.242.332.181.971.61
143CuracaoNANANANA1.60
144Romania2.342.591.831.401.60
145Slovenia2.192.181.461.261.60
146Australia3.452.151.901.811.58
147Estonia1.982.042.051.521.58
148Armenia4.792.962.711.541.58
149Slovak Republic3.042.552.091.271.57
150Antigua and Barbuda4.602.772.251.831.57
151Isle of Man2.882.051.921.851.57
152Bulgaria2.312.231.821.371.56
153United Kingdom2.691.811.831.761.56
154Hungary2.022.351.871.311.56
155Costa Rica6.713.803.212.041.56
156Belgium2.541.741.621.761.55
157Latvia1.941.962.021.391.55
158Netherlands3.121.661.621.711.55
159Chile4.703.182.581.801.54
160Germany2.371.451.451.341.53
161Kosovo6.365.253.652.611.53
162Russia2.521.981.891.291.51
163Cuba4.132.851.801.471.50
164Croatia2.231.961.631.501.48
165Lithuania2.562.182.031.291.48
166Norway2.851.981.931.841.48
167SerbiaNANANA1.451.48
168Uruguay2.833.022.432.101.48
169U.A.E6.726.264.542.201.46
170Switzerland2.441.611.581.421.46
171Austria2.691.831.461.411.44
172Mauritius6.173.202.321.881.44
173Bhutan6.706.625.602.801.43
174St. Lucia6.975.463.401.681.41
175Albania6.464.522.901.801.40
176Canada3.811.821.831.571.40
177Portugal3.162.751.561.411.40
178Bahamas4.823.262.532.051.39
179Belarus2.672.171.911.251.38
180Poland2.982.272.061.241.38
181Finland2.721.681.781.801.37
182Luxembourg2.291.551.601.631.37
183Bosnia & Herzegovina3.912.361.791.201.36
184Jamaica5.584.502.852.061.36
185Thailand6.254.402.091.591.34
186Greece2.232.331.391.341.34
187Japan2.001.911.541.261.34
188Cyprus3.512.112.411.481.33
189Aruba4.822.512.301.781.33
190BermudaNANANA1.761.30
191North Macedonia3.972.592.191.501.30
192China4.453.572.511.621.28
193Italy2.402.171.331.341.24
194Spain2.862.771.361.331.23
195Ukraine2.242.021.851.211.22
196Malta3.622.272.021.381.13
197Singapore5.762.071.831.261.10
198Macao SAR, China4.931.601.740.831.07
199British Virgin Islands5.163.361.591.340.98
200Puerto Rico4.802.772.381.770.90
201Hong Kong5.072.671.270.960.87
202South Korea5.953.431.571.090.84

The African country of Niger currently has the highest fertility rate, at 6.9, which means on average, a woman in Niger will have seven children in her lifetime.

With the exception of Afghanistan (14th), all of the top 30 countries are found on the African continent. In fact, it’s estimated that Africa will add 2.5 billion new people by 2100, while most continents will actually flatline in terms of population growth.

At the bottom of the rankings, the country with the lowest fertility rate is South Korea, at 0.84.

Interestingly, many of the current most populous countries of the world—including China, India, and the U.S.—are all below replacement levels of fertility, with parts of Europe and North America having had persistently low fertility levels since the 1970s.

However, even the countries that currently have high fertility rates have seen a steep decline over the last 60 years. Why?

Why are Fertility Rates Falling All Over The World?

Declining fertility rates are a consequence of a confluence of many related factors, including (but not limited to):

  • Better access to contraception
  • Improving opportunities for women, outside of childbearing
  • Robust healthcare that lowers mortality rates of children

In the past, a larger number of children meant more chances of some making it to adulthood since infant mortality was so high. Women were also restricted to childbearing and rearing, and lacked access to contraception which led to increased—and sometimes unwanted—pregnancies.

Declining fertility rates are thus a triumph of improved socioeconomic development for many countries.

Consequences of Declining Fertility Rates

Although there are obvious issues with our large global population today, a different set of issues arise when fertility rates fall below replacement levels.

Dropping fertility rates can lead to shrinking populations and a higher ratio of the elderly to working adults—which will have unwanted economic consequences like increased healthcare costs and a reduced tax base.

Short-term solutions like immigration can help until populations are shrinking in every country. Longer-term solutions—reducing the cost of raising a child, and providing better support for families with children—are common strategies deployed to ward off demographic disaster.

The current crop of humanity has never had to contend with shrinking populations on a global scale. How will this reshape human livelihoods, priorities and expectations from life? We might soon find out.

Source: The World Bank.

Data note: The World Bank uses a number of sources to aggregate their data including the UN population division, Eurostat, and several national statistics programs. Data for some years is missing and has been marked as “NA.” Please visit their website for more information.

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Millennials

Visualizing the Wealth of Americans Under 40 (1989-2023)

The wealth of American Millennials hit historic highs after the COVID-19 pandemic.

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This line chart shows the growth of wealth for Americans under 40 over the last 40 decades.

Visualizing the Wealth of Americans Under 40 (1989-2023)

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.

Millennials have been often referred to as a “broke generation.” Whether in conversations or on the news, it is common to hear how those born in the 1980s or 1990s are struggling in today’s economy, particularly when it comes to entering the housing market or saving for retirement.

However, data shows that the wealth of Americans under 40 years old has hit historic highs after the COVID-19 pandemic, suggesting that millennials have accumulated more wealth by their 40s than previous generations.

To illustrate this, the graphic above shows the average wealth per household, adjusted for inflation, for Americans under 40 years old from Q4 1989 to Q4 2023 (in December 2023 dollars). The data is sourced from the Federal Reserve and accessed via the Center for American Progress.

Post-Pandemic Recovery

Data indicates that younger Americans have reaped the most benefits from the strong economic recovery after the pandemic, enjoying low unemployment rates and rapid wage growth.

The average wealth of U.S. households under 40 was $259,000 in the fourth quarter (Q4) of 2023, compared to $164,000 in Q4 1989 and $182,000 in Q4 2000.

QuarterAverage Wealth for Those Under 40 (USD)
Q4 1990152K
Q4 1995146K
Q4 2000182K
Q4 2005184K
Q4 2010100K
Q4 2015148K
Q4 2020231K
Q4 2023259K

Looking specifically at millennial households, inflation-adjusted wealth has more than doubled during the same period.

The increase in younger Americans’ wealth is not concentrated in a single area. Average housing wealth—house values minus mortgage debt—rose by $22,000 from 2019 to 2023. Younger Americans also saw gains in liquid assets, such as bank deposits and money market mutual funds, business ownership, and financial assets, mainly stocks and mutual funds.

Additionally, non-housing debt, such as credit card and student loan debt, fell for this age group after the pandemic.

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