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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

Topics: Population Geography, Population Projections, Population Trends

  1. Photo of Rakesh Kochhar

    is Associate Director for Research at the Pew Research Center's Hispanic Trends Project.

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24 Comments

  1. Brian Asbey5 months 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?

    Reply
    1. Rakesh Kochhar5 months ago

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

      Reply
  2. Joshua Sanford5 months 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.

    Reply
  3. Eric Miller6 months 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?

    Reply
    1. Bruce Drake6 months 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%.”

      Reply
    2. Joshua Sanford5 months ago

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

      Reply
  4. JIT KUMAR+GUPTA6 months ago

    10 PROJECTIONS NEED TO BE DEBATED AT GLOBAL LEVEL, CONSIDERING SERIOUS IMPLICATION OF POPULATION GROWTH AND ITS IRRATIONAL DISTRIBUTION. DIFFERENTIAL POPULATION GROWTH WILL MAKE DEVELOPING NATIONS MORE STRESSED LEADING TO ENORMOUS INCREASE IN POVERTY WHEREAS DEVELOPED NATIONS WILL BECOME MORE PROSPEROUS. THERE WILL BE MORE EXPLOITATION, HUNGER, DEATH AND DISEASES. MORE PEOPLE IN DEVELOPING WORLD WILL DIE OF HUNGER AND MALNUTRITION.THERE WILL BE VIRTUAL CHAOS . MORE WARS WILL BE FOUGHT AT THE ALTER OF FOOD AND WORLD PEACE WOULD BE MORE FRAGILE. LET DEVELOPED NATIONS THINK ABOUT IT AND DEVELOPING NATION EVOLVE APPROPRIATE STRATEGIES TO FIGHT HUNGER, POVERTY, DEATH AND DISEASE.

    Reply
    1. Joshua Sanford5 months 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”.

      Reply
  5. JIT KUMAR GUPTA6 months 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

    Reply
    1. Joshua Sanford5 months ago

      Population will balance itself.

      Reply
  6. David Cook6 months 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.

    Reply
    1. Joshua Sanford5 months ago

      People will adapt just like we always have.

      Reply
  7. Evelyn Jackson6 months ago

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

    Reply
    1. Joshua Sanford5 months ago

      Good observation, followed by an equally outstanding question.

      Reply
  8. Dave6 months 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???

    Reply
    1. Joshua Sanford5 months 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?

      Reply
  9. Troy Jones6 months 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.

    Reply
  10. Leslie6 months 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.

    Reply
  11. slk6 months 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!!!

    Reply
    1. Steve6 months ago

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

      Reply
    2. Joshua Sanford5 months ago

      Yeah and those numbers are beyond the quadrillions.

      Reply
  12. Kathryn Papp6 months 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.

    Reply
    1. TJ Krest6 months 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

      Reply
    2. Rob5 months ago

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

      Reply