Age structure

Dependency ratio, 2016 (Percentage)

Aging of the world population

In 2016, 66 per cent of the global population were of working age (15 to 64 years old), 26 per cent were children and 8 per cent were 65 years or older. Since the 1960s, the share of children has steadily decreased while the share of older persons has increased. This trend is forecast to continue. According to projections, by the year 2050, 21 per cent of the population will be under the age of 16, and 16 per cent will be older than 64 years.

Dependency ratios throughout the world

In 2016, the highest ratio of non-working age to working age population was found in sub-Saharan Africa and Afghanistan. This was reflected in dependency ratios higher than 80 per cent. In most developed economies the ratio ranged between 50 and 65 per cent.

Figure 1World population by age group (Billions)

Age and gender structure in detail

The population pyramid of developing economies has a triangular shape, as the highest population shares are found in the younger age classes and population shares diminish for older age classes. The population pyramid of developed economies is bell shaped due to substantially smaller relative proportions of young people. In 2016, the largest age class in developed economies was 50 to 54 years. Half of the population was more than 40 years old, whereas in developing economies this was the case for only one third.

Figure 2Population pyramids, 2016

Differences in the structure of dependency

While the total dependency ratio of developing and developed economies was similarly high in 2016 – around 53 per cent – the underlying structure was entirely different. Developing economies showed a comparatively high share of child dependency, as reflected by the triangular shape of the age pyramid, whereas in developed economies dependency concerns mainly older persons. As a result of population ageing, in 2050, developed economies are projected to have a higher overall dependency ratio than Africa.

Figure 3Dependency ratio by age structure (Percentage)

Note: The total dependency ratio is the sum of the child and old-age dependency ratios.

Summary tables

Table 1

Age structure by group of economies

Group of economies

Year

Population

Dependency ratio

(Millions)

(Percentage)

0-14

15-64

65+

Child
(0-14)

Old-age
(65+)

Total

World

2011

1 876

4 620

545

40.6

11.8

52.4

2016

1 944

4 888

633

39.8

13.0

52.7

2050

2 083

6 142

1 546

33.9

25.2

59.1

Developing economies

2011

1 647

3 724

337

44.2

9.1

53.3

2016

1 710

3 997

401

42.8

10.0

52.8

2050

1 854

5 306

1 182

34.9

22.3

57.2

Developing economies: Africa

2011

445

594

37

75.0

6.2

81.2

2016

502

680

43

73.8

6.3

80.0

2050

811

1 564

150

51.9

9.6

61.5

Developing economies: America

2011

163

395

41

41.3

10.4

51.7

2016

160

424

49

37.8

11.6

49.4

2050

132

493

150

26.8

30.4

57.2

Developing economies: Asia and Oceania

2011

1 038

2 735

260

37.9

9.5

47.4

2016

1 048

2 893

309

36.2

10.7

46.9

2050

910

3 249

881

28.0

27.1

55.1

Transition economies

2011

55

211

35

26.2

16.5

42.6

2016

61

209

36

29.1

17.5

46.5

2050

56

192

60

29.3

31.5

60.8

Developed economies

2011

175

685

173

25.5

25.3

50.7

2016

173

682

196

25.4

28.7

54.1

2050

173

645

304

26.8

47.1

73.9

Selected groups

Developing economies excluding China

2011

1 405

2 716

220

51.7

8.1

59.8

2016

1 461

2 984

259

49.0

8.7

57.7

2050

1 663

4 491

823

37.0

18.3

55.3

Developing economies excluding LDCs

2011

1 288

3 242

307

39.7

9.5

49.2

2016

1 319

3 443

366

38.3

10.6

48.9

2050

1 267

4 099

1 056

30.9

25.8

56.7

LDCs

2011

359

482

30

74.5

6.3

80.7

2016

391

555

35

70.5

6.3

76.8

2050

587

1 207

126

48.6

10.4

59.0

LLDCs

2011

173

237

16

72.9

6.5

79.5

2016

195

279

18

69.7

6.5

76.2

2050

280

597

62

46.9

10.3

57.2

SIDS (UNCTAD)

2011

3

7

1

46.4

10.2

56.6

2016

3

8

1

43.4

11.2

54.6

2050

3

10

2

35.2

22.8

58.0

HIPCs (IMF)

2011

265

313

18

84.7

5.8

90.6

2016

297

367

21

80.9

5.8

86.7

2050

495

931

76

53.1

8.2

61.4

BRICS

2011

708

2 083

218

34.0

10.4

44.4

2016

709

2 167

259

32.7

11.9

44.7

2050

576

2 213

672

26.0

30.4

56.4

G20

2011

993

2 961

383

33.5

12.9

46.5

2016

994

3 077

448

32.3

14.6

46.9

2050

844

3 184

1 030

26.5

32.3

58.8

Table 2

Age structure by gender and group of economies, 2016

Group of economies

Gender

Population
(Millions)

Age class
(Percentage)

0-14

15-24

25 -39

40-64

65-74

75+

World

Female

3 700

25.4

15.6

22.4

27.2

5.5

3.9

Male

3 766

26.7

16.3

22.8

26.7

4.8

2.7

Developing economies

Female

3 004

27.5

16.6

23.0

25.8

4.5

2.6

Male

3 104

28.5

17.1

23.1

25.2

4.0

2.0

Developing economies: Africa

Female

613

40.4

19.1

20.5

16.2

2.6

1.2

Male

611

41.6

19.4

20.4

15.5

2.2

0.9

Developing economies: America

Female

320

24.5

16.9

23.4

26.6

5.0

3.6

Male

313

26.1

17.8

23.9

25.3

4.4

2.5

Developing economies: Asia and Oceania

Female

2 071

24.1

15.8

23.6

28.6

5.0

2.9

Male

2 179

25.2

16.4

23.7

28.0

4.5

2.2

Transition economies

Female

161

18.3

11.4

22.9

32.6

7.4

7.4

Male

145

21.5

13.3

25.5

31.0

5.2

3.5

Developed economies

Female

535

15.8

11.3

19.0

33.3

10.4

10.2

Male

517

17.2

12.2

20.1

33.9

9.6

7.0

Selected groups

Developing economies excluding China

Female

2 324

30.6

17.9

22.8

22.6

3.8

2.2

Male

2 381

31.6

18.5

23.0

22.0

3.3

1.6

Developing economies excluding LDCs

Female

2 512

25.2

16.0

23.4

27.7

4.9

2.9

Male

2 615

26.3

16.6

23.6

27.0

4.4

2.2

LDCs

Female

492

39.3

19.7

20.7

16.5

2.6

1.3

Male

489

40.5

20.1

20.3

15.8

2.3

1.0

LLDCs

Female

247

38.7

19.6

20.8

16.7

2.7

1.5

Male

245

40.4

20.1

20.6

15.7

2.2

1.1

SIDS (UNCTAD)

Female

6

27.6

17.6

22.1

24.8

4.7

3.3

Male

6

28.6

18.2

22.5

24.2

4.2

2.3

HIPCs (IMF)

Female

344

42.8

19.9

19.5

14.5

2.3

1.1

Male

342

43.9

20.2

19.3

13.7

2.0

0.8

BRICS

Female

1 529

21.9

14.8

23.6

30.7

5.6

3.4

Male

1 606

23.3

15.6

23.9

29.7

5.0

2.5

G20

Female

2 225

21.3

14.4

22.7

30.6

6.4

4.6

Male

2 294

22.7

15.2

23.2

30.0

5.7

3.2