The world in three charts: ageing populations

With advances in healthcare, life expectancy has been steadily rising. In many regions this trend has been coupled with a fall in birth rates, resulting in a rapidly ageing population - and the financial burden that brings


The three charts below demonstrate the rise in ageing populations and signpost how this trend might affect different countries’ economic prospects.

Of the world’s wealthiest nations, Japan has the longest experience of coming to terms with an ageing population. As the first chart shows, it is alone in experiencing a drop in total population over the last two decades. But what is more striking is the decline in working population: an ageing population means that a dwindling proportion of the total are in work. Of the wealthy nations, only Germany is alongside Japan in experiencing a fall in working-age population this century.

The second chart provides a snapshot of how this filters into other aspects of the economy, such as the job market. The third chart shows that while China’s population is not ageing as rapidly as other countries’, it will soon have more centenarians than any other nation.

Population growth in G7 countries

2000-2018 % change

Source: IMF

Japan: employers needing workers

Number of job offers per applicant

Source: Thomson Reuters datastream

China will have the most centenarians

Number of persons aged 100 and older             Number of persons aged 100 and older per                                                                                      10,000

Source: United Nations, department of economic and social affairs



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