The World In One Generation: Population Trends

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By jbat
November 29, 2011

In the vein of documenting how the world most likely will look one generate hence, my researcher and I have been taking a look at a number of key global drivers. One, of course, is how we govern ourselves (you can see posts on that topic here and here). Another is global population.

Working with data from the US Census Bureau and International Data Base, we’ve also overlayed some information from Internet World Stats, though for now, the fit is imperfect. Still and all, I found a lot to note in these reports. Thirty-odd years from now, the world is going to be a pretty different place, population wise. I’ve loaded the entire deck, created by my research manger LeeAnn Prescott, up on Slideshare. It has more detail, but I’m going to hit the main points in this post. First, to the basics. Here are population projections by world regions for 2013 (the year What We Hath Wrought comes out), and 2045 (roughly 30 years later):  

As you can see, Europe is shrinking, Asia and Africa are booming. Put another way:

North American stays pretty constant, but African eats into Asia’s dominance. Important, for sure, but as we’ll see later, life expectancy will have something to say about all this. Before we go there, however, check out the top countries in terms of increased population:

LeeAnn points out a “long tail” of population forming, in other words, by 2045 population will be far less concentrated in the top ten countries. A list of the fastest growing and fastest declining countries also is of note:

Let’s pivot to the media age of populations. This is a key metric of social stability – societies dominated by young people are often restive, in particular if they find themselves under autocratic regimes. The detailed data on the Middle East and North Africa for example, that shows that region moving from an average age of 26 in 2013 (young and restive) to nearly a decade older (older, more interested in stability).  Note that the median age in Africa is rising toward what could augur instability by 2045. Asia and Latin America are aging the fastest.

A list of oldest and youngest countries is interesting (above), as is the average life expectancy, where Africa, which had the most room to make up, adds more than a decade.

By country, it’s interesting to note that the US is not on the list of top nations in terms of life expectancies.

Finally, we are working on forward projections of Internet penetration by region (if you have data on this, please let us know!), but here’s where the world stands today:

Again, thanks to LeeAnn for pulling this together, and check the Slideshare for more details.