The global population is aging due to two primary reasons: increasing life expectancy and declining fertility rates.
Geographic Distribution of Aging Populations
Europe and parts of South East Asia have the most aged populations. Conversely, Africa and some regions in West/Central Asia have younger populations.
- Monaco stands out as the country with the oldest population. With a median age of 55.4, half of its residents are older than this age. This is aligned with Monaco having the world’s highest life expectancy at 89.6 years and a very low fertility rate of 1.53, placing it 197th out of 227 countries.
- Other countries who have a a significant aging populations — median age over 46 years — include Japan, Saint Pierre and Miquelon, Germany, Italy and Andorra. Each of these countries has a life expectancy above 80 years and fertility rates below 1.60.
- The United States has a median age of 38.5 years, ranking it 48th globally.
In contrast, there are countries with much younger median ages.
- Niger, in West Africa, has a median age of just 14.8 years.
- Following Niger are Uganda, Angola, Mali, and Chad, all with median ages below 16.5 years. These countries have high fertility rates, all above 5.24. However, their life expectancies are below 70 years, with Chad having the shortest at 59.6 years, ranking it 222nd out of 227 countries.
Table: Median Age, Life Expectancy, Fertility Rate, Birth Rate by Country and Their Ranks
Global Life Expectancy
- Monaco tops the list with a life expectancy of 89.6 years.
- Other nations with life expectancies exceeding 84 years include Singapore (86.5 years), Macau (85.2 years), Japan (85.0 years), San Marino (84.1 years), and Canada (84.0 years).
- The life expectancy in the United States is 80.8 years, ranking it 48th globally.
- Afghanistan, on the other hand, has the world’s shortest life expectancy at 54.1 years.
- Seven other nations have life expectancies under 60 years, include the Central African Republic, Somalia, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, Chad, South Sudan, and Lesotho.
Fertility Rates Around the World
African nations typically have higher fertility rates.
- Niger leads with a fertility rate of 6.73, indicating a woman in Niger, on average, will have 6.73 children in her lifetime.
- Eight countries have fertility rates above 5, including Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo, Mali, Benin, Chad, Uganda, Somalia, and South Sudan.
Some regions in South East Asia record the lowest fertility rates:
- Taiwan has the lowest at 1.09.
- Other nations and regions with fertility rates under 1.3 include South Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong, Macau, Italy, Puerto Rico, and Spain.
- It’s noteworthy that four of the eight locations with the lowest fertility rates belong to the “Greater China” region (Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Macau). China itself has a fertility rate of 1.45, ranking 211th globally.
- The U.S. fertility rate is 1.84, placing it 138th in the world.
For most industrialized nations, the fertility rate needed to maintain a stable population is roughly 2.1 children per woman over her lifetime.
This number accounts for the fact that not all children will reach reproductive age, and slightly more boys are born than girls, but not all of these boys will survive and reproduce. If the fertility rate falls below 2.1, the population will eventually decline.
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