Mapping the World’s Youngest and Oldest Countries
Country age demographics are determined by two key factors: fertility and mortality.
Throughout history, it was typical to see both birth and death rates at higher levels. But today, in most parts of the world, women are having fewer children, and innovations in healthcare and technology mean we are all living longer. The average person today lives to 72.6 years old, while the rate of births per woman has fallen to 2.5.
These trends have drastically altered the demographics of mature economies, resulting in a much older population. In many developing countries, however, births still outweigh deaths, resulting in populations that skew younger.
This visualization uses data from the World Bank to examine the countries with the highest shares of old and young people.
The Fountain of Youth
By 2030, the United Nations estimates there will be 1.3 billion people on the planet between the ages of 15-24. Proving to be a fountain of youth globally, the continent of Africa boasts the top 10 countries with the largest shares of young people in the world.
Somalia, Zambia, and the DRC are just a few to crack the top 10 list. The youngest country in the world is Niger, where almost 50% of the population is below the age of 15.
Here’s a full list of global countries, sorted by percentage of population under 15 years old:
|Country||Share of Population Younger Than 15 (% of total, 2019)|
|🇨🇩 Congo, Dem. Rep.||46.0%|
|🇧🇫 Burkina Faso||44.7%|
|🇬🇲 The Gambia||44.1%|
|🇸🇹 Sao Tome and Principe||42.1%|
|🇨🇮 Cote d'Ivoire||41.7%|
|🇸🇸 South Sudan||41.6%|
|🇸🇱 Sierra Leone||40.7%|
|🇸🇧 Solomon Islands||40.1%|
|🇬🇶 Equatorial Guinea||37.0%|
|🇵🇬 Papua New Guinea||35.5%|
|🇿🇦 South Africa||29.0%|
|🇨🇻 Cape Verde||28.4%|
|🇩🇴 Dominican Republic||27.7%|
|🇸🇻 El Salvador||26.9%|
|🇸🇦 Saudi Arabia||24.9%|
|🇱🇰 Sri Lanka||24.0%|
|🇵🇫 French Polynesia||22.6%|
|🇳🇨 New Caledonia||22.4%|
|🇻🇨 St. Vincent and the Grenadines||22.2%|
|🇦🇬 Antigua and Barbuda||22.0%|
|🇨🇷 Costa Rica||21.1%|
|🇹🇹 Trinidad and Tobago||20.3%|
|🇰🇵 North Korea||20.0%|
|🇳🇿 New Zealand||19.6%|
|🇻🇮 U.S. Virgin Islands||19.5%|
|🇺🇸 United States||18.5%|
|🇱🇨 St. Lucia||18.2%|
|🇬🇧 United Kingdom||17.7%|
|🇲🇰 North Macedonia||16.4%|
|🇵🇷 Puerto Rico||16.3%|
|🇨🇿 Czech Republic||15.7%|
|🇦🇪 United Arab Emirates||14.7%|
|🇧🇦 Bosnia and Herzegovina||14.7%|
|🇲🇴 Macao SAR, China||14.0%|
|🇰🇷 South Korea||12.7%|
|🇭🇰 Hong Kong SAR, China||12.3%|
Young countries have significant opportunities ahead of them. A younger population means a larger upcoming workforce and more opportunities for innovation and economic growth.
While domestic markets in Africa grow in terms of labor supply, innovation, and potential consumers, there are also challenges that arise in these countries. Corruption, political instability and unemployment, particularly in Africa, are all potential barriers to prosperity for the continent’s Gen Z population.
Populations Skewing Older
The world’s oldest country is Japan, where 28% of the population is older than 65. However, it’s an anomaly—the rest of the oldest countries in the top 10 are all in Europe.
Globally, it’s the 65+ age group that is growing the fastest. According to the same UN estimates, it is predicted that by 2050 that one in six people will be over 65 years old.
Here’s a full list of global countries, sorted by percentage of population over 65 years old:
|Country||Share of Population Older Than 65 (% of total, 2019)|
|🇻🇮 U.S. Virgin Islands||19.8%|
|🇨🇿 Czech Republic||19.8%|
|🇵🇷 Puerto Rico||19.6%|
|🇬🇧 United Kingdom||18.5%|
|🇭🇰 Hong Kong SAR, China||17.4%|
|🇧🇦 Bosnia and Herzegovina||17.2%|
|🇺🇸 United States||16.2%|
|🇳🇿 New Zealand||15.9%|
|🇰🇷 South Korea||15.0%|
|🇲🇰 North Macedonia||14.0%|
|🇲🇴 Macao SAR, China||11.2%|
|🇹🇹 Trinidad and Tobago||11.1%|
|🇱🇰 Sri Lanka||10.8%|
|🇱🇨 St. Lucia||10.0%|
|🇨🇷 Costa Rica||9.8%|
|🇻🇨 St. Vincent and the Grenadines||9.7%|
|🇳🇨 New Caledonia||9.4%|
|🇰🇵 North Korea||9.2%|
|🇦🇬 Antigua and Barbuda||9.0%|
|🇵🇫 French Polynesia||8.6%|
|🇸🇻 El Salvador||8.4%|
|🇩🇴 Dominican Republic||7.2%|
|🇿🇦 South Africa||5.4%|
|🇨🇻 Cape Verde||4.6%|
|🇸🇧 Solomon Islands||3.6%|
|🇵🇬 Papua New Guinea||3.5%|
|🇸🇦 Saudi Arabia||3.4%|
|🇸🇸 South Sudan||3.3%|
|🇨🇩 Democratic Republic of the Congo||3.0%|
|🇸🇹 Sao Tome and Principe||2.9%|
|🇸🇱 Sierra Leone||2.9%|
|🇨🇮 Cote d'Ivoire||2.8%|
|🇨🇫 Central African Republic||2.8%|
|🇬🇲 The Gambia||2.5%|
|🇬🇶 Equatorial Guinea||2.4%|
|🇧🇫 Burkina Faso||2.4%|
|🇦🇪 United Arab Emirates||1.1%|
Fewer births, and a resulting older population, is a trend attributed to the changing lifestyles of women. For example, Japan’s fertility rate has fallen to less than 1.5 children per woman due to modern access to contraceptives and the prioritization of work over marriage and family life.
However, fewer young people also means a smaller workforce on the horizon and a shrinking domestic market. There is also a rising social cost of caring for the elderly, as longer lifespans have resulted in a higher prevalence of chronic diseases and an increasing inability to care for oneself. This can result in an increased tax burden on the diminishing younger, working population.
Another Perspective on the Data
Looking at the data from the opposite angle also reveals information about our world. Here’s a look at the countries with the lowest proportions of younger or older people.
Hong Kong and Singapore have some of the lowest fertility rates in the world (1.1), so it’s no surprise to see low numbers of children in their demographic data.
In a country like the United Arab Emirates, the majority of the population is made up of foreign workers, so the number of people in the 65+ age group is extremely low. In the coming decades though, the situation is expected to shift dramatically with one in every five Emiratis residing that age group by 2050.
The Big Picture
While each country has its own unique demographic make up, one thing is clear. As education and wealth levels rise around the world, fertility rates are dropping almost everywhere.
The trend of long life expectancies and fewer births is likely to continue, but young outliers will remain and they present immense economic potential.
Mapped: GDP per Capita Worldwide
GDP per capita is one of the best measures of a country’s standard of living. This map showcases the GDP per capita in every country globally.
Mapped: Visualizing GDP per Capita Worldwide
View the high-resolution of the infographic by clicking here.
GDP per capita has steadily risen globally over time, and in tandem, the standard of living worldwide has increased immensely.
This map using data from the IMF shows the GDP per capita (nominal) of nearly every country and territory in the world.
GDP per capita is one of the best measures of a country’s wealth as it provides an understanding of how each country’s citizens live on average, showing a representation of the quantity of goods and services created per person.
The Standard of Living Over Time
Looking at history, our standard of living has increased drastically. According to Our World in Data, from 1820 to 2018, the average global GDP per capita increased by almost 15x.
Literacy rates, access to vaccines, and basic education have also improved our quality of life, while things like child mortality rates and poverty have all decreased.
For example, in 1990, 1.9 billion people lived in extreme poverty, which was 36% of the world’s population at the time. Over the last 30 years, the number has been steadily decreasing — by 2030, an estimated 479 million people will be living in extreme poverty, which according to UN population estimates, will represent only 6% of the population.
That said, economic inequality between different regions is still prevalent. In fact, the richest country today (in terms of nominal GDP per capita), Luxembourg, is over 471x more wealthy than the poorest, Burundi.
Here’s a look at the 10 countries with the highest GDP per capita in 2021:
However, not all citizens in Luxembourg are extremely wealthy. In fact:
- 29% of people spend over 40% of their income on housing costs
- 31% would be at risk of falling into poverty if they had to forgo 3 months of income
The cost of living is expensive in Luxembourg — but the standard of living in terms of goods and services produced is the highest in the world. Additionally, only 4% of the population reports low life satisfaction.
Emerging Economies and Developing Countries
Although we have never lived in a more prosperous period, and poverty rates have been declining overall, this year global extreme poverty rose for the first time in over two decades.
About 120 million additional people are living in poverty as a result of the pandemic, with the total expected to rise to about 150 million by the end of 2021.
Many of the poorest countries in the world are also considered Least Developed Countries (LDCs) by the UN. In these countries, more than 75% of the population live below the poverty line.
Here’s a look at the 10 countries with the lowest GDP per capita:
Life in these countries offers a stark contrast compared to the top 10. Here’s a glance at the quality of life in the poorest country, Burundi:
- 80% of the population works in agriculture
- 1 in 3 Burundians are in need of urgent humanitarian assistance
- Average households spend up to two-thirds of their income on food
However, many of the world’s poorest countries can also be classified as emerging markets with immense economic potential in the future.
In fact, China has seen the opportunity in emerging economies. Their confidence in these regions is best exemplified in the Belt and Road initiative which has funneled massive investments into infrastructure projects across multiple African countries.
Continually Raising the Bar
Prosperity is a very recent reality only characterizing the last couple hundred years. In pre-modern societies, the average person was living in conditions that would be considered extreme poverty by today’s standards.
Overall, the standard of living for everyone today is immensely improved compared to even recent history, and some countries will be experiencing rapid economic growth in the future.
GDP per Capita in 2021: Full Dataset
|Country||GDP per Capita (Nominal, 2021, USD)|
|🇺🇸 United States||$66,144|
|Hong Kong SAR||$47,990|
|United Arab Emirates||$32,686|
|Trinidad and Tobago||$16,622|
|Saint Kitts and Nevis||$16,491|
|Antigua and Barbuda||$14,748|
|Saint Vincent and the Grenadines||$7,401|
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||$6,536|
|West Bank and Gaza||$3,060|
|Papua New Guinea||$2,596|
|Republic of Congo||$2,271|
|São Tomé and Príncipe||$2,133|
|Central African Republic||$522|
|Democratic Republic of the Congo||$478|
Editor’s note: Readers have rightly pointed out that Monaco is one of the world’s richest countries in GDP per capita (nominal) terms. This is true, but the IMF dataset excludes Monaco and lists it as “No data” each year. As a result, it is excluded from the visualization(s) above.
Ranked: The Most Innovative Companies in 2021
In today’s fast-paced market, companies have to be innovative constantly. Here’s a look at the top 50 most innovative companies in 2021.
Ranked: the Top 50 Most Innovative Companies in 2021
This year has been rife with pandemic-induced changes that have shifted corporate priorities—and yet, innovation has remained a top concern among corporations worldwide.
Using data from the annual ranking done by Boston Consulting Group (BCG) using a poll of 1,600 global innovation professionals, this graphic ranks the top 50 most innovative companies in 2021.
We’ll dig into a few of the leading companies, along with their innovative practices, below.
Most Innovative Companies: A Breakdown of the Leaderboard
To create the top 50 innovative company ranking, BCG uses four variables:
- Global “Mindshare”: The number of votes from all innovation executives.
- Industry Peer Review: The number of votes from executives in a company’s industry.
- Industry Disruption: A diversity index to measure votes across industries.
- Value Creation: Total share return.
For the second year in a row, Apple claims the top spot on this list. Here’s a look at the full ranking for 2021:
|Company||Industry||HQ||Change from 2020|
|3||Amazon||Consumer Goods||🇺🇸 U.S.||--|
|5||Tesla||Transport & Energy||🇺🇸 U.S.||+6|
|6||Samsung||Technology||🇰🇷 South Korea||-1|
|9||Sony||Consumer Goods||🇯🇵 Japan||--|
|12||LG Electronics||Consumer Goods||🇰🇷 South Korea||+6|
|14||Alibaba||Consumer Goods||🇨🇳 China||-7|
|17||Cisco Systems||Technology||🇺🇸 U.S.||-5|
|18||Target||Consumer Goods||🇺🇸 U.S.||+4|
|19||HP Inc.||Technology||🇺🇸 U.S.||-4|
|20||Johnson & Johnson||Healthcare||🇺🇸 U.S.||+6|
|21||Toyota||Transport & Energy||🇯🇵 Japan||+20|
|23||Walmart||Consumer Goods||🇺🇸 U.S.||-10|
|24||Nike||Consumer Goods||🇺🇸 U.S.||-8|
|25||Lenovo||Technology||🇭🇰 Hong Kong SAR||Return|
|26||Tencent||Consumer Goods||🇨🇳 China||-12|
|27||Procter & Gamble||Consumer Goods||🇺🇸 U.S.||+12|
|28||Coca-Cola||Consumer Goods||🇺🇸 U.S.||+20|
|29||Abbott Labs||Healthcare||🇺🇸 U.S.||New|
|30||Bosch||Transport & Energy||🇩🇪 Germany||+3|
|32||Ikea||Consumer Goods||🇳🇱 Netherlands||Return|
|33||Fast Retailing||Consumer Goods||🇯🇵 Japan||Return|
|34||Adidas||Consumer Goods||🇩🇪 Germany||Return|
|35||Merck & Co.||Healthcare||🇺🇸 U.S.||Return|
|37||Ebay||Consumer Goods||🇺🇸 U.S.||Return|
|38||PepsiCo||Consumer Goods||🇺🇸 U.S.||Return|
|39||Hyundai||Transport & Energy||🇰🇷 South Korea||Return|
|41||Inditex||Consumer Goods||🇪🇸 Spain||Return|
|44||Disney||Media & Telecomms||🇺🇸 U.S.||Return|
|45||Mitsubishi||Transport & Energy||🇯🇵 Japan||New|
|46||Comcast||Media & Telecomms||🇺🇸 U.S.||New|
|47||GE||Transport & Energy||🇺🇸 U.S.||Return|
One company worth touching on is Pfizer, a returnee from previous years that ranked 10th in this year’s ranking. It’s no surprise that Pfizer made the list, considering its instrumental role in the fight against COVID-19. In partnership with BioNTech, Pfizer produced a COVID-19 vaccine in less than a year. This is impressive considering that, historically, vaccine development could take up to a decade to complete.
Pfizer is just one of four COVID-19 vaccine producers to appear on the list this year—Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, and AstraZeneca also made the cut.
Meanwhile, in a completely different industry, Toyota snagged the 21st spot on this year’s list, up 20 places compared to the rankings in the previous year. This massive jump can be signified by the company’s recent $400 million investment into a company set to build flying electric cars.
While we often think of R&D and innovation as being synonymous, the former is just one innovation technique that’s helped companies earn a spot on the list. Other companies have innovated in different ways, like streamlining processes to increase efficiency.
For instance, in 2021, Coca-Cola performed an analysis of their beverage portfolio and ended up cutting their brand list in half, from 400 to 200 global brands. This ability to pare down and pivot could be a reason behind its 20 rank increase from 2020.
Innovation Creates Value
As this year’s ranking indicates, innovation comes in many forms. But, while there’s no one-size-fits-all approach, there is one fairly consistent innovation trend—the link between innovation and value.
In fact, according to historical data from BCG, the correlation between value and innovation has grown even stronger over the last two decades.
For example, in 2020, a portfolio that was theoretically invested in BCG’s most innovative companies would have performed 17% better than the MSCI World Index—which wasn’t the case back in 2005.
And yet, despite innovation’s value, many companies can’t reap the benefits that innovation offers because they aren’t ready to scale their innovative practices.
The Innovation Readiness Gap
BCG uses several metrics to gauge a company’s “innovation readiness,” such as the strength of its talent and culture, its organization ecosystems, and its ability to track performance.
According to BCG’s analysis, only 20% of companies surveyed were ready to scale on innovation.
What’s holding companies back from reaching their innovation potential? The most significant gap seems to be in what BCG calls innovation practices—things like project management or the ability to execute an idea that’s both efficient and consistent with an overarching strategy.
To overcome this obstacle, BCG says companies need to foster a “one-team mentality” to increase interdepartmental collaboration and align team incentives, so everyone is working towards the same goal.
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