Selection of Global Population and Health Indicators

Our World in Data presents the empirical evidence on how living conditions are changing over the long run. Here is a short overview of the history of global living conditions that introduces the publication.

This document collects the empirical evidence on the questions which we were under discussion.

2018 Conversation on Africa and Population Growth

1 – Young cohorts (0-5 yrs; 6-11 yrs) to show what portion are African versus non-African every 5 years or so. To demonstrate the shift.

2 – Is the shift in non-African under 5 numbers matched by the rise in children under 5 in Africa?

The answers to question (1) and (2) can be combined nicely. Here we have made a chart of the global change in the projected child population (under the UN’s medium fertility scenario) split between Africa and the Rest of the World. This is shown from 2015 through to 2100.

These charts show nicely the rising dominance of Africa in the global share of children. According to the UN projections the number of children in Africa will continue increasing over the course of the 21st century such that by 2100 the number will be similar to the number of children in the rest of the world combined. By 2100 it’s projected that Africa will have 320 million children under 5 years old, compared to 330 million across the rest of the world.

The projection also shows that globally the UN demographers expect the number of children to be almost stable throughout this century. From 2015 to 2050, the global under-5 population is projected to rise from 674 million to 702 million before slowly falling to 650 million by 2100. Although this shows a rise-peak-fall trend, the rate of change is slow such that it over short to medium timeframes, child population is relatively stable. Since child numbers in Africa increase significantly, this means child numbers in the rest of the world would be instead declining at a significant rate. For global child population to remain stable, the decline in the rest of the world must be approximately equal to the increase in Africa.

For all of this it is extremely important to keep in mind that these projections are very uncertain, especially for Africa. We have written about this uncertainty and compared it with projections of other reputable demographers in our post on ‘Peak Child’.

These basic trends also hold true for children aged 6-11 years old (shown in the second chart below). Here again we see relatively stable global numbers in UN projections. But we also see the rise of Africa: by 2100 almost half of 6-11 year olds will be African (386 million vs. 407 million elsewhere).

3 – What are the highest growth countries outside of Africa between now and 2050? And 2050 to 2100.

4 – Similarly for countries within Africa.

For (3) and (4), we have shown this visually in two maps. The first map shows the change in under-5 population from 2015 to 2050 (negative means under-5 population is declining, blue means it’s increasing). The second map shows the same but for the change between 2050 to 2100.

Note that you can zoom in on any region using the button on the bottom-right of the map. For example, Africa, shown here.

In the ‘chart’ tab on these maps you can add or remove any country to the discrete bar chart for comparisons. As the default we show the 5 African countries with the largest under-5 population growth, in addition to some others across the world of interest.

From 2015 to 2050: Within Africa, the countries with the highest growth (in absolute numbers) are Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, Niger, and Uganda. Outside Africa, child populations are expected to fall across most countries, with some exceptions. Child population growth in the United States will continue to be significant, alongside Canada, Iraq, Pakistan, Philippines, Australia and Northern European countries. Note that India, China and Brazil will all see significant declines.

From 2050 to 2100: Within Africa, the countries with the highest growth (in absolute numbers) are Nigeria, Tanzania Niger, Angola, and Zambia. Outside Africa, child populations are expected to fall across most countries, with only a few exceptions. Child population growth in the United States will continue to be significant, alongside Canada, Iraq, Australia and the Scandinavian countries.

5 – Age pyramid for Africa – how it shifts between now and 2050 and 2050 to 2100.

Age pyramids are available at the website of our friends at Gapminder. Below you find two visualizations of the age pyramid of Africa that show the two shifts that you are interested in. The first comparison shows the population structure in 2018 (shown by the black lines) and on top of this the age structure of 2050 in blue. The second chart shows the age structure in 2050 by the black line and overlaid on top of this the age structure in 2100 in blue.

This is again the highly uncertain projection by the UN Population Division.

What we can see from the projection is that the UN expects the population in Africa to shift from a population with the majority of people being very young to a population where the majority of the population is in the young working-age bracket. This is driven by both the decline of the fertility rate and the decline of mortality at a young age.

6 – Forecasts of what the income distribution will look like by decade – to pull out the number of people in each country in abject poverty.

There are two serious efforts that I know of which attempted to answer these questions.

Mauro and Hellebrandt made projections of the global income distribution. The visualization below shows their projection.

Between 2003 and 2013 the world saw almost a doubling of the median income globally. The authors project another doubling of global median incomes between 2013 and 2035. The growth rates that were assumed for this projection are shown in the insert in the top right.

4 world income distribution 2003 to 2035 growth rates

And earlier this year Jesus Crespo Cuaresma et al. published projections of the number of people in extreme poverty in their Nature paper: ‘Will the Sustainable Development Goals be fulfilled? Assessing present and future global poverty’. This work is also published interactively at their website: World Poverty Clock.

As I have shown in some more detail in my recent talk at the UN the authors do not expect that we can reach the important SDG 1 of ending extreme poverty. Whilst the share of people in extreme poverty in Africa will continue to decline we cannot expect the number of people in extreme poverty to decline on the African continent. This means that by the end of the SDG era we expect extreme poverty to be almost exclusively restricted to Africa.


2017 Conversation on Vaccination and Child Health

Below are the world maps you requested. You can take the slider below the map to show the change over time. Clicking on any country will show you the change over time for that country.

If you need any additional research and visualisation of empirical data on global development just let me know.

Mortality at a young age

The following map is taken from our entry on child mortality. The SDG goal is to reduce child mortality to less than 25 deaths per 1,000 live births in all countries.

Maternal mortality

It is one of the SDGs to reduce the global maternal mortality ratio to less than 70 per 100,000 live births. Switching to the ‘chart’ tab in the following visualisation shows that the global maternal mortality rate in 2015 was 3-times higher at 216 deaths per 100,000 live births.


The following visualisation shows the change in vaccination coverage (DTP3) and child mortality over time, country by country.