Youth Perspectives

The world's biggest countries, as you've never seen them before

Passengers board an overcrowded train near a railway station at Loni town in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, India, February 24, 2016. India's federal-run railways will have to depend on more government support and borrowing to fix their finances in its budget on Thursday, with New Delhi reluctant to unveil steep fare hikes ahead of key state elections, officials said. REUTERS/Anindito Mukherjee - D1AESOWINXAA

By 2050, Mumbai will be the largest megacity in the world with over 42 million people. Image: REUTERS/Anindito Mukherjee

Jeff Desjardins
Founder and editor, Visual Capitalist
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Youth Perspectives

China and India may have similar populations today, but they have very different demographic destinies.

While China should see its population fall in the coming decades, India projects to be the most populous country in 2050 by a long shot. By that time, India will have up to 1.7 billion people – and Mumbai will be the largest megacity in the world with upwards of 42 million people.

Comparing population pyramids

These kind of future trends are not evident from the base population figures alone, but they become much clearer when we look at the population pyramids of countries instead.

Today’s animated chart comes from PopulationPyramid.net, and it shows a breakdown for each of the 10 most populous countries in the world:

Image: Visual Capitalist

A population pyramid, which shows the distribution of a population in terms of age group and sex, can help us to see things like:

How many people are being born?

How long are people living?

The age skew of the population

Analyzing these factors can give us an idea of the direction a country is trending, and whether it will continue to grow in terms of population.

Different makeups

Below are three typical patterns for population growth: rapid, slow, and negative.

Image: Visual Capitalist

How do the population charts for the top 10 countries compare, using these kinds of classifications?

Rapid growth:
According to the above graphs, India, Indonesia, Nigeria, Mexico, Brazil, Bangladesh, and Pakistan will continue to grow their populations at a rapid pace. Nigeria is growing at a particularly fast rate, and by 2060 it will displace the U.S. as the third-largest country in the world by population.

Slow growth:
The United States stands out here as the only country in the top 10 experiencing tempered growth. That said, the U.N. sees the country hitting 400 million people around the year 2060 if trends continue.

Negative growth:
China, because of its One-Child Policy from 1979 to 2015, is not a surprise to see here.

However, Russia may be an intriguing mention in this category for many – the country has a low birth rate, a low immigration rate, and an unusually high death rate. In fact, Russia’s death rate is 15 people per 1,000 – almost twice that of the U.S. due to a high amount of alcohol-related deaths and emergencies.

Economic progress and population

The above classifications are mostly intuitive.

With the exception of China (and its self-inflicted wound from the One-Child Policy), the countries experiencing slower or negative growth are the ones with more mature economies.

This is something that can also be seen in this below graph:

Image: Visual Capitalist
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The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.

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