Update: Working Age Population Around the World 1960-2050

This is an update of a similar post from 2015. The UN projections have changed but only by small numbers. The main observations are the same as six years ago (click table to enlarge in a new tab).

The working age population (WAP, those aged 15 to 64) of sub-Saharan Africa continues to grow rapidly. It has more than doubled since 1990 from 252 million to 609 million, and is expected to more than double again by 2050 to 1.3 billion. If the reality turns out to be anywhere near these projections, it will be a significant challenge for African economies to absorb and to employ productively this enormous amount of new human energy.

India faces a similar challenge with its WAP growing from 928 million now to 1.1 billion in 2050. Though daunting, this represents a slowdown in the rate of growth from the previous thirty-year span 1990-2020.

The WAP of Europe, China and Japan have already peaked and will be declining for the rest of the century, per UN projections. Europe’s decline from near 500 million in 2005 to a projected 407 million by 2050 is mainly due to eastern and southern Europe. The WAP of France and the United Kingdom will flatline to 2050 while those of Germany and Russia decline.

In the United States, the steady growth in the WAP between 1960 and 2005 combined with a falling dependency ratio to fuel strong economic conditions. Growth in the WAP is expected to be more muted in the decades ahead.

Compared to the late 20th century and the first decades of this century, the future growth in the WAP will taper off or even turn negative in several regions and countries. Sub-Saharan Africa stands out as the exception that will maintain strong WAP momentum through at least 2050.

Wednesday Briefs – 31 March 2021

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How Demographics Explain the Economy

Aaron M. Renn, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and a contributing editor at City Journal, invited founder Sami J. Karam to discuss populyst and the populyst index. Topics include the economies of America and China, Europe’s demographic stagnation and Africa’s population explosion.

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Working Age Population Around the World 1960-2050

>>> This post was updated in May 2021. Visit this page for latest figures.

A fast growing economy usually requires a growing working-age population.  It is informative in this regard to look at the size of the working-age population (wap) for different regions and countries of the world.

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This data, compiled from the UN’s World Population Prospects – the 2015 Revision, tells us the following: Read more

Demography, the Global Emergency

It is not an exaggeration to say that world demographics are entering uncharted territory. For the first time in a very long time, perhaps the first time ever, the dependency ratios (loosely, the ratio of dependents to workers) of all rich nations and of several emerging markets have started rising and will continue to rise for several decades.

This alone would be enough of a challenge for the world economy. But making things more complicated, it is taking place at the same time as the other big demographic transition of our age, the great population boom in some of the poorest nations of the world. Read more

England and Wales: Population Grew 7% in the Past Decade

LIZZY DAVIES writes in the Guardian that the population of England and Wales grew by 3.7 million people in the decade to 2011. This represents total growth of 7%, or 0.69% per year. Davies notes that “one of the most striking aspects of the census is the rise in the number of over-65s, who now make up one in six of the population of England and Wales.” She also writes that “the median age in England and Wales was 39 [in 2011] – compared with 25 in 1911”.

(The Wall Street Journal notes in a separate article by Marcin Sobczyk that much of the UK’s population growth can be attributed to new immigrants from Poland: “Poland’s own national census, published earlier this year, showed the country bleeding its permanent residents. Nearly two million Poles resided permanently outside their country in 2011, and departures over the past decade reduced Poland’s population to 36.6 million in 2011 from 37.4 million in 2002… Nearly a third of Polish emigrants lived in the U.K., the Polish census showed. Britain was much more popular for Polish expatriates than Poland’s neighbor Germany, the destination for about a fifth of Polish emigrants.”)

Lizzy Davies’ Guardian article begins here:

The population of England and Wales has grown by 3.7 million over the last decade, the biggest increase documented since census-taking began in 1801, according to new figures.

The first tranche of findings from the 2011 census illustrate how longer life expectancy, migration and higher fertility rates have caused the number of residents to boom. The figures show that the population of England and Wales on 27 March 2011 was 56.1 million compared with 52.4 million in 2001, the year of the last census. The population of northern Ireland, according to results also released today, was 1.8 million.

Although the official Scottish results will not be released until later this year, Glen Watson, director of the 2011 Census, said that, based on an estimate from earlier this year, the new figures would take the UK’s total population to 63.1 million. READ MORE.

Europe: Aging Population Undermines Longer-Maturity Bonds

ANCHALEE WORRACHATE writes in Bloomberg News and highlights the adverse rise of the dependency ratio undermining European debt reduction efforts:

The euro-region’s ability to grow its way out of the debt crisis faces a roadblock — an aging population.

While Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti and his Spanish and French counterparts push for measures to spur an economic expansion, Italy’s structural dependency ratio exceeds 50 percent. In other words, the number of working-age people is less than half the total population. The government forecasts the ratio will reach 63 percent in 2030 and 83 percent by 2065.

Aging and shrinking labor pools are adding to budget woes in the region where the unemployment rate is already at a record high. The risk is that without an overhaul of benefit programs, governments will be unable to balance their books as tax revenues shrink and unfunded pension and health-care liabilities balloon. Longer-maturity bonds in Spain, Portugal and Greece are underperforming their shorter-dated counterparts amid concern the nations’ finances will keep deteriorating.

“You just can’t create growth out of thin air and the demographic trend in the euro zone isn’t conducive to growth,” said Humayun Shahryar, who helps oversee $100 million as chief executive officer at Auvest Capital Management Ltd. in Nicosia, Cyprus. “For a long time, the economic expansion in the region was fueled by low borrowing costs that came with the monetary union. That’s no longer the case and the shrinking working-age population is a problem.” READ MORE.

Germany: Number of Births Hits Post-War Low

A third of all babies born in Germany, still the EU’s most populous member state, came from immigrant families, the analysts said, noting that without them the overall figure would have been much lower.

FROM REUTERS VIA CNBC:

BERLIN (Reuters) – The number of births in Germany fell to a post-war low last year despite government incentives meant to reverse a population decline in the European Union’s biggest economy, and analysts blamed a lack of sufficient child care support.

A third of all babies born in Germany, still the EU’s most populous member state, came from immigrant families, the analysts said, noting that without them the overall figure would have been much lower.

The preliminary data released by Germany’s Federal Statistics Office showed 663,000 children were born in 2011, down from 678,000 in 2010.

“As in every year since 1972, the number of people who died was greater than the number of children born. In 2011 the difference amounted to 190,000 people and in 2010 to 181,000,” the office said in a report. READ MORE.