February 3, 2014

10 projections for the global population in 2050

A new Pew Research Center report examines global public opinion on the challenges posed by aging populations and analyzes projections for the populations in the U.S. and in 22 other countries. Here are 10 major findings regarding the demographic future of the world’s population in 2050.

1The global population is getting older: The number of people 65 and older is projected to triple by mid-century, from 531 million in 2010 to 1.5 billion in 2050. In the U.S., the population of seniors is expected to slightly more than double, from 41 to 86 million.


2The world is graying faster than the U.S.: The global median age, eight years less than in the U.S. in 2010, is projected to be only five years less by 2050.



3Who will be among the oldest? By 2050, the majority of people in Japan, South Korea and Germany are expected to be older than 50. Some Latin American countries, which are now younger than the U.S., will likely be older than the U.S. by 2050.



4Trading young for old: Most countries, including the U.S., are projected to see the share of their population that is 65 and older surpass the share that is younger than 15 by mid-century.



5Pressure on workers: As populations age, working-age people in the developed world may have to support more dependents, while workers in India and several major African nations will likely have to support fewer dependents.



6Population 2050: The global population is expected to increase by 38%, from 6.9 billion in 2010 to 9.6 billion in 2050. The population of children younger than 15 is projected to increase by only 10%, a consequence of falling birth rates.



7How big will the U.S. be? The U.S. population is projected to grow by 89 million residents from 2010 to 2050. The U.S. is likely to grow faster than European and East Asian countries, but slower than Nigeria, which is expected to replace the U.S. as the world’s third most populous country.



8A population shift to Africa: Africa’s population is projected to increase the most and make up a greater share of the global population by 2050. The shares of Europe and Asia in the global population are expected to decrease, while the Americas will hold steady.



9India replaces China as the world’s most populous country: India’s population is expected to increase by 400 million by 2050. Its projected population of 1.6 billion will be almost equal to the populations of the U.S. and China combined. China is projected to add only 25 million residents.



10Population losers: The populations of Japan, Russia and Germany are expected to decrease by more than 10% by 2050. For Japan, this means a loss of 19 million residents; for Russia, 23 million; and for Germany, 10 million.



Read the full report: Attitudes about Aging: A Global Perspective

Topics: Population Geography, Population Projections, Population Trends

  1. Photo of Rakesh Kochhar

    is an associate director of research at Pew Research Center.

Leave a Comment


All comments must follow the Pew Research comment policy and will be moderated before posting.


  1. James1 month ago

    My estimation is Population 0

  2. JIT KUMAR Gupta4 months ago

    Figures are only numericals, they do not convey the real life story. Nations and communities have their problems and potentials. What is going to happen tomorrow no body can tell, then how are making comments for next 35 years. I think,, it will be economic activities which will dictate the future population growth where migration will be the major component. Poor nations would impoverish whereas rich will attract people, both legally and illegally. Population will go to the limit which will be described by nature and then it will start declining not by human efforts but by nature’s system of checks and balances. Major defined of population will be the education and literary besides the health care.

  3. Daniel4 months ago

    There is a story that I once heard… Here’s how it goes: There are two wolves that are enemies in a great battle. One represents hope, happiness, and love. The other represents despair, sadness and hate. Which won will win? The answer is simple: Whichever wolf you feed. I am only 14 years old. These things always trouble me, and I when I heard this story, I began to understand. If you go and say,”Oh, yeah… The world is about to end. We’re all going to die because no one will do anything about it!” then you are feeding the bad wolf. Do something about it. If you plaster the idea that the world is going to Hell in your mind, then, eventually, it’ll become a ritual to think,”The world will fail.” If you think positive, and keep believing in a good, positive future, and everyone DOES something about it, then it’s bound to happen! We have the technology! We have the manpower! We have the will! So I, for one, don’t think the world will crumble anytime soon…if we all work together!

    1. chris4 weeks ago

      i agree. bad enough you got people posting the biblical out cry about how the worlds ending. instead taking warnings and changing to be better. they rather cause chaos and negative actions.

  4. Karl Saleh5 months ago

    The people under 15 years old will increase of ”only” 10%. Well that’s a bit late… I hope it quickly goes below 0%. The worldwide population NEEDS to decline of 1 or 2 % per year.

    1. Ethlas2 months ago

      decreasing the young age will not help you. it will make you suffer. What needs to happen is the old population to decline which will not happen because medicine (and wars are not as devastating as wars like WWII). If there are more old then young the economy will start to decline or you will need to work to an older age. (as in retire when you are 70-80 instead of 60-70).

      If you look at Europe now you can see that this decline is not helping them.

  5. mfan5 months ago

    The world is not just going to keep on going as it has been. Borders will change; global trade will decline; people will flee regimes, etc. So world population won’t peak at 10 Billion and stay there, like some people think, but will actually start declining at some point.

    1. Laurel4 months ago

      That’s true. The percentage will decrease. The number of people however will keep growing as life expectancy continues to rise. A big reason that the population grew so fast in the mid 1900’s was World War 2. The world was celebrating the end of a terror and it was repopulating.

  6. Theresa6 months ago

    Soylent Green

  7. Grace7 months ago

    My professor who was a great scientist used to say, ” that everything in nature has natural checks and balances,

    1. hrc6 months ago

      Your professor was indeed very wise. This report does not takes into account the
      checks and balances.. the unforseen events.. Russia for example gained 3 millions more population in Crimea and Ukraine will never recover and Russia is reporting a massive exodus of Ukrainians too ,seeking an very life in Russia. at the moment 1 million of Ukrainians moved to Russia main land since the war began. and with time it will only grow the numbers ,the more Russia economy stabilize.. i predict that the studies of Russia population will dramatically change from negative to positive grow in just a couple of years. Russia is also receiving a massive influx of Europeans too ,from failed economies too.. In short population growth can be influenced significantly by the state of a country economy. The only really worrying thing is Europe becoming a muslin nation.. by 2050 as some studies show.. Russia will not have that problem for the same reasons mentioned here already.

  8. James7 months ago

    The world is going to hell in a hand basket faster than you can say extinction. Extreme overpopulation that’s only rising, crime rates increasing tenfold, the slaughter of animals at an alarming rate that’s increasing every year, disease and illness, poverty rising faster than ever before, etc. This is all only going to get worse as we continue to reproduce at such an extreme rate. There’s twice as many people on the planet as there were in 1970 and 7 times as many people as there were just 100 years ago. We can’t sustain a continual increase at this rate. It will inevitably crumble at some point, but not before doing all sorts of damage to all living things along the way.

    I think it’s about time another meteor wipes out our planet.. before we do.

    1. adam6 months ago

      Did you even read the article? The world is aging rapidly. We have too few young people, not too many. I think it’s time you dumped the bell bottoms and put your Ehrlich in the recycling bin.

    2. Jonathan Lovelace5 months ago

      where are you living that crime rates are increasing?

      US crime-rates at least are continuing a decades-long slide. It’s pretty sweet.

  9. Kailash Panda7 months ago

    Good to note … Africa will be the power house of workforce.

    1. Ethan Matthews5 months ago

      It will be the poverty, disease, war house of the world.

  10. Janet “Jamie” White9 months ago

    Human beings have become a plague that is wiping out all other species. the ZPG movement started in the late 60s when the population was half of what it is today. It’s a shame people weren’t listening. Now we have to deal with the consequences with way too many people with too few resources.

    1. David Sherman9 months ago

      Projections are never definite. Technology is advancing. Humans definitely have to take initiative to recycle and help the planet but our world will not end soon. Every thing, every civilization, ends eventually, for one reason or another. I’m sure that no one planned Black Death, but as a result, population decreased tremendously. No one has a crystal ball that can see into the future, and there is no need to stress and worry others. I am only 12 years of age and these things used to make me unable to sleep but the truth is, although we will definitely have a larger population in 2050, I believe that the people and modern science will make it work.

    2. Luis OJeda9 months ago

      As population grows so does technology that enables, us to feed the world 100 hundred times over. The problem is not the resources but those that control the resources, are the Multinational companies(MNC’s). They would not allow the bottomline and share holders interest to be compromised and remains the top priority while the poor people suffer because lack of capital. See the problem is not population it the small percentage of the population that controls all the resources.

      1. frank7 months ago

        the poor people need education, because they have son’s unconscious, they must think tree questions: how many can I rise properly? what I want for them? and what can I do for them?
        The growth of population give more power to the owner’s of the resources simply by the law offer-demand!!

  11. Mike10 months ago

    I wonder how much long term impact Ebola will have on African countries in the region. Which is not to say all that many people will die, but I wonder how many people will make long term plans to live elsewhere as soon as they have the chance. Could very well shift the population growth from one part of Africa to another, or simply to a different continent. It takes awhile to come back from that.

  12. Stacy Clarkson10 months ago

    Well my wife and I have 7 sons the last 2 by IVF in 2008,we did our part to keep the USA growing… :)

    1. Eric10 months ago

      Not everyone agrees that keeping the US (or world) population growing is either good or responsible…

      1. Hostnobail9 months ago

        Responsible, intelligent people with the economic and morale imbodiment;Living in and representing a prosperous nation should not be discouraged,but be promoted to solve America’s replenishment demographic.

    2. edward9 months ago

      Wish i would have had more than two. Good job Stacy!

  13. Hemanta Chandra Bhatt1 year ago

    The total number of people residing in the world, what age groups they belong to and how much they consume has direct bearing on the future of the human race and the planet Earth itself. World population growth along with ever increasing consumerism is perhaps going to become the biggest challenge for our world, some day in the future.

    1. mfan11 months ago

      It looks like the world is going to top out at around 10 billion. These UN numbers are very conservative, underestimating most population declines. Also, the Pew Research itself is projecting 438 million for the US by 2050, based on assumptions about immigration. As long as the world’s population tops out, and then maybe even declines, I’m confident we can solve all our problems.

  14. Brian Asbey2 years ago

    I note you avoid using any statistics from the UK, which has a more cosmapolitan base than any other European country, is this because it would not fit in with your trend forecast?

    1. Rakesh Kochhar2 years ago

      Data for Britain and several other countries are available in our report Attitudes about Aging: A Global Perspective.

  15. Joshua Sanford2 years ago

    It seems to me that the world population would begin to increase exponentially after about the year 2030. This idea that the world population only increases roughly 2,000,000,000 every 20 years or so is rubbish.

    1. Plochu8 months ago

      Why would you think that? The birth rate is declining almost everywhere in the world. Exponential growth doesn’t just magically happen because you have a large population that reproduces – there are other requirements and everything points to the prediction that we won’t be meeting them.

  16. Eric Miller2 years ago

    I find it interesting that Mexico is predicted to see sizable population growth (32%) but at the same time will be seeing significant aging of their population. (Median age going from 26 to 42) That is a bigger swing in median age than any other country shown here, and all of the countries showing increases in median age are accompanied by comparatively low (or even negative) population growth.

    Since an increase in median age is indicative of lower birth rates, what is driving the population growth in Mexico? Is there significant migration into the country?

    1. Bruce Drake2 years ago

      Eric Miller:

      Rakesh Kochar, author of this post, provides this answer: “Yes, the aging of Mexico’s population is due to a decline in the fertility rate. High fertility rates in the past meant that a large share of Mexico’s population was younger than 15 (upwards of 40% till about 1990). This large cohort is now making its way up the age pyramid but the base of the pyramid is not being replenished at the same rate. The result is a sharp increase in the median age. Mexico’s total fertility rate has dropped from nearly seven in the 1950s to just above two at the moment. This is sufficient to maintain modest population growth. Note that the projected 32% increase in Mexico’s population from 2010 to 2050 is below average, i.e. it is less than the projected increase of 38% in the global population. It is also well below the change in Mexico’s population in the preceding four decades (1970 to 2010) when it had increased by 122%.”

    2. Joshua Sanford2 years ago

      I think someone withholds just a bit more “classified” information than the rest of us.

  17. JIT KUMAR+GUPTA2 years ago


    1. Joshua Sanford2 years ago

      Your so right. The industrial/capitalistic run governmental countries will thrive without a care about what should be done about death, famine, or what I like to call “silent genocide”.

    2. mfan11 months ago

      You are so wrong. All of the worlds problems are being solved, including poverty.

  18. JIT KUMAR GUPTA2 years ago

    A great work . Data will be useful to the countries, professionals and planners to critically look at the demographic behaviour and pattern of population. Urbanization data also needs to be added in order to understand the complexity of urbanization. Future challenges to most of the developing nations include population, poverty and pollution. These challenges need to be met effectively, failures will lead to disasters. World must make efforts to balance the population in order to rationalize development failing which world will face crisis and chaos

    1. Joshua Sanford2 years ago

      Population will balance itself.

  19. David Cook2 years ago

    The projected population loss of 13% in Germany is dubious to me. Even though the birthrate remains low (about 1.41) there are signs that it is increasing. Even more importantly is that immigration to that country is accelerating rapidly (200,000 new immigrants in 2011, 300,000 in 2012 and 400,000 in 2013) which has offset natural decline three years in a row. Now the immigration rate in Germany is almost twice that of the US. Surely this will offset some of the natural population decline, but I guess we’ll have to see.

    In many cases, it is the urbanized population increase that worries me. In China for example, the overall population will remain stagnant between now and 2050, but the urbanized population will boom at the expense of the rural population. Shanghai alone is expected to almost double by 2050 to 50 million. This means rapid increases in consumption over the next 40 years that will indeed signal tough times ahead for everyone.

    1. Joshua Sanford2 years ago

      People will adapt just like we always have.

    2. mfan11 months ago

      By 2050, we will be in a world where most things are cheap or free. It’s already started, and will accelerate as solar energy becomes more and more cheap. Already, we can run our cars at an electricity cost of fifteen cents a gallon (equivalent) if we make the large infrastructure investment necessary. Already, millions of homes in the US could pay less for electricity by installing solar panels on their roofs at no financial risk to them. The word just hasn’t gotten out, yet.

  20. Evelyn Jackson2 years ago

    I don’t see any information about the Middle East-can you give us some perspective on what is happening there?

    1. Joshua Sanford2 years ago

      Good observation, followed by an equally outstanding question.

  21. Dave2 years ago

    10 Projections for 2050 should have been called, All About Aging… And when you look at the chart on #6 you see the elderly will still just be a small fraction of the population. Who’s got the ax to grind here???

    1. Joshua Sanford2 years ago

      I find your comment very interesting considering I will be a part of this age group in 2050. Does someone such as the CIA Builderbergers know something about a catastrophic war that could wipe out the younger adult population?

      1. Christina8 months ago

        Excellent questions and observations Joshua!

  22. Troy Jones2 years ago

    The nature of this article is to warn people that UNLESS SOMETHING CHANGES, there
    are hard times ahead for everyone. The birthrates are changing everywhere and I saw
    nothing in the report that showed optimism about this. David P. Goldman’s
    “How Civilations Die” is significantly more optimistic about falling birthrates.
    (At least I thought the falling birthrate projections to be “optimistic”.) We already
    have too many people who are unable to perform useful work to support themselves.
    Isn’t it inefficient to produce so much stuff that we have to GIVE money to people so that they can buy it? Better the population should fall. The earth can only safely support
    a given number of people safely and cleanly.

  23. Leslie2 years ago

    The numbers and increases in population numbers, even by age group or country, do not tell the whole story.

    Consumption does. Economic, social and cultural activities do.
    How a country or region meets the needs of all its population is the tale.

    I doubt there will be any developed or developing country that will see “growth” in population, or segments of population, as a positive indicator by itself – of anything.

    The world is at risk of having exceeded a carrying capacity for the current human species population, however distributed by political boundary, or age.

  24. slk2 years ago

    you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know if you’re going to be payed for making babies, the population will rise…fast!!!

    1. Steve2 years ago

      Who is being paid to have babies in China, India, Kenya, Nigeria?

    2. Joshua Sanford2 years ago

      Yeah and those numbers are beyond the quadrillions.

    3. Thomas Robertson1 year ago

      Believe it or not, this is false. In places where people are paid money from the government the birth rate is falling. Whereas in places with very poor governments and no social support, birth rates are highest. For instance Bolsa Familia in Brazil and a similar program in Mexico are enriching families and yet the birth rate in those countries has fallen significantly. The largest predictor of falling birth rates is opporunities for women, both work and education.

  25. Kathryn Papp2 years ago

    The title “Population Losers” appears to position these countries in negative situations.

    In fact, there are many benefits, both short and long term, to shrinking human population.

    The benefits of human population reduction, especially the multiple impacts on the environment, need to be articulated. This would be a welcome balance to the repeated reports on the downsides of human population growth.

    A conversation on how to transition to a smaller human “footprint” redistributes wealth, reduced energy consumption, and preserves biological diversity is vital.

    1. TJ Krest2 years ago

      It will be very int3eresting indeed to see how well Germany, Russia, and Japan do in all categories like economic, well being, environmental, happiness, and productivity in the coming years. Bet they do better than most countries

    2. Rob2 years ago

      I agree! I’d say nations with a shrinking population are most definitely the winners.

      1. Srishti10 months ago

        Fall in population leads to fall in economic growth, more unemployment, more poverty,more religion and an inability to deal with environmental or pollution issues.