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This analysis focuses on population aging, population age categories in % (age pyramids), and overall population growth. It looks at various geographic units (countries, continents, regions, World) from 1950 to the Present (2019 & 2020). And, it looks at projections out to 2100. Africa is an outlier to the overall global aging; its population growth (historical & projected) is far faster than for other major regions.

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Slide 1 - Global Demographic Aging & African Divergence Gaetan Lion, May 4, 2022
Slide 2 - Introduction 2 Analysis This analysis focuses on population aging, population age categories in % (age pyramids), and overall population growth. It looks at various geographic units (countries, continents, regions, World) from 1950 to the Present (2019 & 2020). And, it looks at projections out to 2100. Africa is an outlier to the overall global aging; its population growth (historical & projected) is far faster than for other major regions. Data UN, Population Division (original data source). We captured the data through two incredibly useful websites: populationpyramid.net Our World in Data. Graphics. We constructed the age pyramids using R ggplot2. This allowed us to combine them on single graph outputs. We also used extensively Our World in Data graphic capabilities.
Slide 3 - Basic Age Pyramid Types YOUNG OLD MATURE 3
Slide 4 - Basic Age Pyramid Types Interpretation YOUNG OLD MATURE very high fertility short life expectancy longest life expectancy longer life expectancy very low fertility Low fertility 4
Slide 5 - Basic Age Pyramid Characteristics & Implications 5
Slide 6 - Underlying Explanatory Model 6 This is a basic economic development explanatory model. As women get more educated, they participate in the labor force. And, fertility drops, life expectancy increases, population growth slows down, and population ages. This model explains how a population pyramid evolves from looking like a pyramid (young) to a urn (old).
Slide 7 - Looking at visual data documenting the Explanatory Model 7
Slide 8 - Strong relationship between rising women’s education level (X) and declining fertility (Y) 8
Slide 9 - Strong relationship between declining fertility and rising women labor force participation outside of Africa. 9
Slide 10 - Very high fertility in much of Africa Fertility 10 The fertility replacement rate is 2.1. Greater than 2.1 suggests population growing; less than 2.1 suggests population declining. Of course, immigration does have a strong impact on such outcomes.
Slide 11 - Very low women labor force participation in Northern Africa, Middle East, and India. Women Labor Force Participation 11
Slide 12 - Very high fertility in much of Africa, Middle East, and Central Asia. Population Growth 12
Slide 13 - Australia, Canada, New Zealand, US, and part of Europe did not report this indicator. It should be red, reflecting high women literacy rate. Women Literacy 13 Africa stands out with very low women literacy rate.
Slide 14 - 14 For the most part, the explanatory model is in line with the demographic data. Countries with high women literacy (+) have high women’s labor force participation (+), low fertility rate (-), and low to negative population growth (-). The exception is a good part of Africa where many countries have a high women’s labor force participation and yet still high fertility and fast population growth. 1 2 3 4
Slide 15 - Fertility (-) Women labor force participation (+) Population growth (-) Women literacy rate (+) 15 1 2 3 4
Slide 16 - Demographic aging Convergence focused on four countries representative of large regions 16 Brazil, representative of South America Japan, representative of Asia United States, representative of North America Germany, representative of Europe We also selected Nigeria as representative of Africa. But, that is the divergent country that does not converge towards demographic aging.
Slide 17 - 17 Brazil Brazil experiences a spectacular transition from a very young population (1950 – 1985) to a very mature one (2019). And, it is forecasted to have a very old population by 2100. Its population has increased very rapidly until the present. But, based on UN projections it is expected to peak around 2050, and decline ever after.
Slide 18 - 18 Germany Germany has always had a mature to old population. It has continued aging slowly from 1950 to 2019. Based on UN forecast, its population is already expected to decline over the next couple of years and continue to do so until the end of the forecast (2100). However, the population decline is forecasted to be very slow.
Slide 19 - 19 Japan Japan has experienced one of the most rapid population aging. It had a very young population in 1950. It already had a pretty mature one by 1985, and old one by 2019, and is forecasted by the UN to have a very old one by 2100. Its population has already started declining in 2011. And, unlike Germany its population decline is expected to be much faster till the end of the century.
Slide 20 - 20 United States The US population aging is a lot slower than for the other three countries shown so far. This is due to a higher rate of immigration that compensates for declining fertility and rising life expectancy. Thus, unlike the other mentioned countries, its population is expected to continue rising (albeit a slowing rate) until 2100.
Slide 21 - 21 1950. 3 out of the 4 countries have similar pretty young population In 1950, both Brazil and Japan have very young and nearly identical age pyramids. The US pyramid still looks pretty young. Only Germany already does show a mature pyramid. Already back in 1950.
Slide 22 - 22 2019. Convergence towards a mature to old pyramid profile Now, all the formerly young-pyramids from 1950 have morphed into mature to old-urns by 2019. Notice, that Japan who had a very young looking population back in 1950, now has the oldest population in 2019. The ranking of the countries on this dimension has changed.
Slide 23 - 23 2100. By then, they all converge looking like old urns Here the surprise is Brazil, who is rivaling Japan for having the oldest looking urn shape. They are both much older than Germany. On a relative basis, the US urn shape does not look quite as old as the other three. And, as we know the US population keeps on growing throughout the century. Meanwhile, the three other countries’ respective populations are projected to decline for several decades prior to 2100. .
Slide 24 - 24 Convergence: 1950 - 2019 From pyramids to urns in 70 years. Notice the exceptionally rapid aging of Japan. It goes from being a very young society rivaling Brazil on this count, to becoming the oldest society among the four countries. At the other extreme, notice how slowly Germany’s demographic has changed over the same period.
Slide 25 - 25 The convergence continues till 2100 By 2100, they all look very much like urns. The surprise here is the expected continuing aging of Brazil with a demographic profile that rivals Japan, and is much older than Germany… and far older than the US.
Slide 26 - 26 The full convergence from 1950 to 2100 Notice how much younger the demographic profile of Brazil and Japan are in 1950. But, by 2100 both of them have aged dramatically and converged towards the other two countries. Brazil and Japan now actually lead in aging. The pyramids & urns looked very different in 1950. And, they look very similar in 2100.
Slide 27 - The Nigerian Divergence 27
Slide 28 - 28 Nigeria Nigeria’s population remains remarkably young over the past 70 years (1950 – 2019), unlike any of the other four countries reviewed. It is only by 2100, that Nigeria’s population looks like it has aged a bit. Yet, at such date it is still far younger than the other four countries. Truly, a divergent country.
Slide 29 - 29 Comparing aging in Nigeria, Brazil, and Japan. In 1950, all three countries had very young age pyramids. In 2019, nearly 70 years later, Nigeria’s age pyramid shape remains unchanged, still looking very young. Meanwhile, Brazil’s pyramid has aged a lot; and Japan’s even more so. By 2019, Japan’s pyramid already looks like an urn, and depicts the oldest age pyramid among major countries. Nigeria is at the other end, and has one of the youngest age pyramid among major countries.
Slide 30 - The population of Nigeria rose from 37.9 million in 1950 to 206.1 million in 2020! 30
Slide 31 - The population of Nigeria is forecasted to grow from 206.1 million in 2020 to 793.9 million by 2100! Nigeria’s prospective growth out to 2100 is far faster than for the other four countries: Brazil, Japan, US, and Germany. This divergence (faster pop. growth) plays out whether you look at country level (Nigeria) or large regions and continental level (Africa). Africa is the divergent region. 31
Slide 32 - Convergence & Divergence at the Global Region Level from 1950 to 2020 32 We will focus on four large regions that have each a huge population between 1.1 and 1.5 billion. These regions are: Africa Europe & Northern America China India
Slide 33 - 33 Africa’s rapid exponential population growth is truly amazing.
Slide 34 - 34 Notice the far slower population growth, and far more rapid population aging. This stacked graph is pretty rich; as it is capturing the information of 70 yearly consecutive pyramid charts stuck together. The only thing we are missing in this data aggregation is the gender differentiation.
Slide 35 - 35 Very rapid growth for China that is in between Africa and Europe & Northern America. China’s population kept on rising beyond 1980 when its one-child policy was implemented. Yet, its fertility rate did drop rapidly. But, other Asian countries (Japan, South Korea, etc.) experienced similar decline in fertility without one-child policies. Notice the very large expansion of the 25-64 year old age group. This has facilitated China becoming the manufacturing labor force for the World over the past 20 years.
Slide 36 - 36 Another country that experienced a very rapid rise in population from 1950 to 2020. Also, notice the bulging of the 25-64 year old, very similar to China. This has facilitated India becoming the labor force of off-shore IT and services support for the World.
Slide 37 - 37 Africa has by far the youngest population associated with the fastest growth. India has 2nd fastest pop. growth Large labor force for services About 60% of pop. < 25 Over 40% of pop. < 25 Large labor force for manufacturing Fairly static population AFRICA INDIA CHINA Europe and Northern America
Slide 38 - 38 Africa’s population shows almost no aging. Around 60% of the population is under 25 years old throughout the entire period.
Slide 39 - 39 China experienced fairly rapid aging since 1975. Notice the huge expansion in the 25-64 year old since 1970. This allowed China to become the manufacturer for the World. The young have shrunk dramatically as a % of total population since 1970. As a result, the huge and expanding labor force (25-64) will start contracting going forward.
Slide 40 - 40 India’s population is aging slowly compared to China. It still has a very large youth foundation that should allow it to replace the large labor force over the next generation.
Slide 41 - 41 On a relative basis, this region is aging fairly rapidly. See the expansion of the 65+ year old. The labor force (25-64) has remained somewhat static in % of pop. But, it has to support a rising % of senior citizen (65+). The youth is declining suggesting that the population aging will continue. The above demographics will exacerbate fiscal pressures to support social entitlements.
Slide 42 - 42 Africa’s population is almost not aging at all. Youth (< 25) account for 60% of population. India’s youth population proportion is shrinking China’s population has aged rapidly since 1970 Europe and North America populations are continuing to age
Slide 43 - Convergence & Divergence at the Global Region Level Out to 2100 43
Slide 44 - 44 Europe and Northern America are on a different trajectory out to 2100 Europe’s population is projected to start declining after 2020. Population will continue to age fairly rapidly. This may be associated with slower economic growth and intense fiscal pressure to support rising social entitlements. Northern America’s population will continue to age fairly rapidly. But, the population is forecasted to continue rising through 2100. Economic growth may be a bit faster and fiscal pressures a bit milder relative to Europe.
Slide 45 - 45 Very rapid population aging Steady decline in youth population after 2020 Contraction in labor force after 2050 Population starts declining after 2060
Slide 46 - 46 Very rapid population aging Contraction in labor force after 2020 Shrinking youth population after 1990 Rapid population decline after 2030
Slide 47 - 47 Population aging is much slower than anywhere else, resulting in Africa’s population exceeding 4 billion by 2100!
Slide 48 - 48 When focusing on % mix instead of nominal population count, we can more readily observe Africa’s population aging. Youth (<25) are projected to decline from 60% of population currently to about 35% by 2100. Yet, on a comparative basis the 35% level is still very high.
Slide 49 - 49 China’s population % mix is expected to stabilize by 2060. The aging process will be fully seasoned. And, the shapes of pyramids or urns, if we constructed them, would remain unchanged from 2060 to 2100.
Slide 50 - 50 In India, population aging is continuing through 2100. Unlike China, it is not expected to stabilize.
Slide 51 - 51 Europe and Northern America projected population mix in % out to 2100 look very similar. But, Europe’s population has and will continue to age more than Northern America in every single decade. These slight variances in aging paths make the difference between Europe’s population expected to shrink going forward, while Northern America’s is expected to continue rising.
Slide 52 - 52 Africa’s projected population aging is much slower than anywhere else. And, it appears far away from stabilizing. China’s relative growth of 65+ is faster than anywhere else. But, aging is expected to stabilize by 2060. India’s population aging looks far away from reaching a stabilizing point (unlike China and Europe). Europe’s population aging is pronounced; but, is projected to stabilize by 2060 (similar to China).
Slide 53 - 53 Africa’s population mix by 2100 is very similar to Europe’s around 1980. Europe’s population aging is projected to pretty much stabilize around 2060. If Africa’s demographic curves follow the same path, it suggests Africa’s population mix and aging could stabilize around 2180.
Slide 54 - 54 Africa’s historical and projected population growth rates are so much higher than for the other regions. By 2100, Africa’s population is projected to be much greater than all the other three regions combined!
Slide 55 - 55 Africa’s population is leaping passed the other regions
Slide 56 - 56 World prospective population growth. It is all about Africa Between 1950 and 2020, Africa’s population has grown by a multiple of nearly 6 times! The rest of the World has grown by 2.5 times. Out to 2100, Africa’s population is expected to more than triple. Meanwhile, the rest of the World’s population is expected to remain flat.
Slide 57 - 57 Age Dependency Ratio: a demographic measure associated with fiscal stress (social entitlements) European Union US China India Age dependency ratios have steadily risen in Europe and US. This measure is starting to rise rapidly in China. Going forward, this will be associated with increasing fiscal stress to fund social entitlements for the elderly.