Age structure

Dependency ratio, 2019(Percentage)

Regional distribution of dependency ratios and trends over time

Globally, in 2019, for every 100 persons of working age there were 53 persons who were younger or older. This figure, the dependency ratio, varies considerably across regions. In most economies of Western, Middle and Eastern Africa it is higher than 65 per cent, whereas in Western, Eastern and South-Eastern Asia, it is often lower than 45 per cent. Notable exceptions include Japan (68 per cent) and Israel (67 per cent), as well as Yemen (73 per cent), Timor-Leste (71 per cent), Iraq (71 per cent) and economies around the Hindu Kush.

Globally, for every 100 persons of working age there were 39 children and 14 older persons. The proportion of children in the population has steadily declined from the peak of 38 per cent in 1966, to 26 per cent in 2019, while the proportion of the older than 64 rose from 5 to 9 per cent over the same period. The net effect has been a decline of the dependency ratio from 76 to 53 per cent. The aging of the world population is projected to continue in the coming decades.

Figure 1World population by age group (Percentage)

Non-pyramid shape of developed economies' population pyramid

Comparing population pyramids, we find that in developing economies, older age classes are successively smaller than younger classes. In developed economies, this pattern is reversed, so that the proportions of older age groups are larger and younger age groups are smaller than in developing economies.

In both the developing and developed world, women are the majority for older age groups, whereas the majority of children are boys. In 2019, 49.6 per cent of the world population was female.

Figure 2Population pyramids, 2019

Less child dependency, more old-age dependency

Over the next 30 years, the total dependency ratio is projected to rise in most regions. Child dependency ratios will decrease, but it is forecast that this will be compensated for by rising old-age dependency ratios. Africa is the exception, featuring both decreasing child and overall dependency ratios (child: from 72 per cent in 2019 to 52 per cent in 2050, overall: from 79 to 61 per cent). In general, child dependency ratios are projected to fall fastest where they are currently highest.

Unlike child dependency, old-age dependency is forecast to increase most in the groups of economies where it is already comparatively high, especially in developed economies, where an increase from 31 in 2019 to 47 per cent is expected by 2050.

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 and dependency ratio

Group of economies

Year

Population

Dependency ratio

(Millions)

(Percentage)

0-14

15-64

65+

Child
(0-14)

Old-age
(65+)

Total

World

1950

870

1 538

129

56.5

8.4

64.9

2019

1 975

5 035

703

39.2

14.0

53.2

2050

2 056

6 131

1 549

33.5

25.3

58.8

Developing economies

1950

636

991

64

64.2

6.5

70.7

2019

1 737

4 146

455

41.9

11.0

52.9

2050

1 833

5 299

1 185

34.6

22.4

57.0

Developing economies: Africa

1950

94

126

7

74.6

5.9

80.5

2019

530

731

45

72.5

6.2

78.7

2050

797

1 548

143

51.5

9.2

60.7

Developing economies: America

1950

67

93

6

72.2

6.2

78.4

2019

156

432

56

36.1

12.9

49.0

2050

130

485

144

26.7

29.6

56.3

Developing economies: Asia and Oceania

1950

475

772

51

61.5

6.6

68.1

2019

1 051

2 982

354

35.2

11.9

47.1

2050

906

3 266

899

27.8

27.5

55.3

Transition economies

1950

59

128

12

45.7

9.5

55.2

2019

65

207

40

31.2

19.2

50.3

2050

58

195

62

29.9

31.6

61.5

Developed economies

1950

175

419

53

41.7

12.5

54.2

2019

174

682

208

25.5

30.5

56.0

2050

164

636

302

25.8

47.5

73.3

Selected groups

Developing economies excluding China

1950

448

650

39

68.9

6.1

74.9

2019

1 482

3 131

290

47.3

9.3

56.6

2050

1 635

4 461

819

36.7

18.4

55.0

Developing economies excluding LDCs

1950

556

883

58

62.9

6.5

69.5

2019

1 333

3 553

418

37.5

11.8

49.3

2050

1 262

4 113

1 065

30.7

25.9

56.6

LDCs

1950

80

108

6

74.4

5.9

80.3

2019

404

592

37

68.3

6.2

74.5

2050

571

1 186

120

48.1

10.1

58.2

LLDCs

1950

32

42

2

76.2

5.4

81.5

2019

204

297

20

68.7

6.6

75.2

2050

274

593

60

46.2

10.1

56.3

SIDS (UNCTAD)

1950

2

2

0

69.8

6.9

76.7

2019

3

8

1

41.7

11.4

53.0

2050

3

10

2

34.3

22.0

56.3

HIPCs (IMF)

1950

52

67

4

77.3

5.9

83.2

2019

315

402

22

78.4

5.5

83.9

2050

484

925

73

52.3

7.9

60.2

BRICS

1950

411

719

49

57.1

6.9

64.0

2019

707

2 213

296

31.9

13.4

45.3

2050

574

2 226

682

25.8

30.6

56.4

G20

1950

645

1 221

107

52.8

8.7

61.6

2019

1 026

3 291

547

31.2

16.6

47.8

2050

862

3 305

1 110

26.1

33.6

59.7

Table 2

Population by age class, 2019

Group of economies

Population
(Millions)

Percentage of total

All age
classes

0-14

15-24

25-39

40-64

65-74

75+

World

7 713

100.0

25.6

15.6

22.4

27.2

5.7

3.4

Developing economies

6 338

100.0

27.4

16.5

22.9

26.0

4.8

2.4

Developing economies: Africa

1 307

100.0

40.6

19.3

20.5

16.2

2.4

1.0

Developing economies: America

644

100.0

24.3

16.7

23.4

27.0

5.3

3.4

Developing economies: Asia and Oceania

4 387

100.0

23.9

15.7

23.5

28.7

5.4

2.6

Transition economies

311

100.0

20.7

11.2

23.7

31.5

7.6

5.1

Developed economies

1 065

100.0

16.3

11.4

19.4

33.3

10.6

9.0

Selected groups

Developing economies excluding China

4 904

100.0

30.2

17.9

22.9

23.1

3.9

2.0

LDCs

1 033

100.0

39.1

20.0

20.7

16.6

2.4

1.1

LLDCs

521

100.0

39.2

19.7

20.8

16.5

2.5

1.2

SIDS (UNCTAD)

13

100.0

27.2

17.0

23.2

25.1

4.7

2.7

Selected economies

China

1 434

100.0

17.8

12.0

22.9

35.9

7.9

3.6

India

1 366

100.0

26.6

18.1

24.1

24.8

4.3

2.0

Brazil

211

100.0

21.0

16.0

24.4

29.4

5.8

3.5

Nigeria

201

100.0

43.7

19.3

19.2

15.1

2.1

0.7

Russian Federation

146

100.0

18.2

9.4

23.4

33.9

9.0

6.1

Japan

127

100.0

12.6

9.3

16.6

33.6

14.0

14.0

Table 3

Female population by age class, 2019

Group of economies

Population
(Millions)

Percentage female

All age
classes

0-14

15-24

25-39

40-64

65-74

75+

World

3 824

49.6

48.4

48.3

48.9

50.1

52.9

58.9

Developing economies

3 120

49.2

48.3

48.3

48.9

49.8

52.2

57.0

Developing economies: Africa

654

50.0

49.3

49.6

50.1

51.2

54.0

58.2

Developing economies: America

327

50.8

49.0

49.4

50.3

52.0

54.3

59.0

Developing economies: Asia and Oceania

2 138

48.7

47.7

47.6

48.3

49.3

51.6

56.5

Transition economies

164

52.6

48.5

48.7

49.7

53.6

61.1

71.1

Developed economies

541

50.8

48.7

48.8

49.3

50.4

53.0

59.7

Selected groups

Developing economies excluding China

2 421

49.4

48.6

48.6

49.0

50.1

52.7

57.1

LDCs

519

50.3

49.4

49.7

50.8

51.5

53.9

56.6

LLDCs

263

50.4

49.3

49.6

51.0

52.0

55.5

59.5

SIDS (UNCTAD)

6

49.5

49.2

48.5

48.2

50.5

52.7

56.7

Selected economies

China

698

48.7

46.5

46.8

48.3

49.3

51.3

56.8

India

656

48.0

47.5

47.1

47.5

48.8

50.7

54.0

Brazil

107

50.8

48.9

49.3

50.1

51.8

54.9

60.3

Nigeria

99

49.3

48.9

49.2

49.3

50.2

52.5

53.3

Russian Federation

78

53.7

48.7

48.9

49.9

54.3

62.5

73.5

Japan

65

51.2

48.7

48.7

48.8

49.5

52.1

60.7