Global Demographics

According to population projections from the United Nations, the global population age 65 and older will triple over the next 40 years from 0.5 billion in 2010 to 1.5 billion by 2050, increasing the share of old people from 8% to 16%. There is a shift toward older age brackets in almost every country as people live longer and have fewer children. Workforce growth is slowing almost everywhere and in many countries workforces are actually shrinking as populations age.

Although population aging is a global phenomenon, large variations in the timing and pace of fertility declines and longevity gains create dramatic differences across countries. Because these demographic developments and their divergent patterns have significant implications for economic growth and political stability, understanding how they are likely to unfold is critical for addressing them wisely.


“SCL/PRB Index of Well-Being in Older Populations,” June 2011
Developed by the Stanford Center on Longevity and the Population Reference Bureau, this Index facilitates cross-national comparisons of well-being in older populations and can be used to determine which factors contribute to a country’s relative standing. The report describes the methodology used to develop the Index and summarizes 12 key indicators of material, physical, social, and emotional well-being in the United States and 11 European Countries. Read more

“Population Age Shifts Will Reshape Global Workforce,” July 2010
Four-page graphic display of how workforce growth differs around the world. The graphics include world maps of working-age population change and individual country charts showing relative workforce growth and decline. Read more

“Population Aging Will Reshape Global Economics and Geopolitics,” May 2010
Four-page graphic overview of how population aging differs around the world. The display includes representative histograms, individual country graphs of the percent 65+, and comparative charts of fertility, median age, and workforce change. Read more

“Profiles of Changing Age Mix, Selected Countries,” September 2009
Collection of one-page demographic profiles that demonstrate key differences in age structure and workforce change across selected countries.

“Critical Demographics of the Greater Middle East: A New Lens for Understanding Regional Issues,” March 2009
Comparative analysis of critical demographic developments that have profound implications for the region’s economic development and political stability. To facilitate the analysis, we categorized countries according to their demographic characteristics. The “age groups” differ primarily by the timing and pace of fertility declines and longevity gains. Read more

“Critical Demographics of Asia: Rapid Aging and the Shape of the Future in China, South Korea, and Japan,” February 2009
Comparative demographic briefing for participants in our joint conference with the Walter Shorenstein Asia Pacific Research Center on “Aging Asia: Economic and Social Implications of Rapid Demographic Change.” Read more

“Implications of Global Aging and Population Trends: Economic Prosperity, National Security, and Social Well-Being,” January 2009
One-page overview describing key challenges and implications of global aging. Read more

“China’s Demographic Shifts: The Shape of Things to Come,” October 2008
Briefing on China’s dramatic demographic shifts, describing the rapidly aging population, steep increase in number of old people, and projected decline in the working-age population. Read more

“Challenges and Opportunities of Global Aging,” May 2008
Background briefing binder prepared for an interdisciplinary conference of Stanford experts, convened by George Shultz and SCL to discuss challenges and opportunities of Global Aging. The purpose of the conference was to explore how global aging will affect US interests in such areas as economics, health, national security and education and to identify challenges, opportunities and implications that policy makers should consider.

“Graying of the Global Population,” Public Policy & Aging Report, January 2008
Overview article for the journal’s special issue on global aging. Read more

“Global Demographic Shifts Create Challenges and Opportunities,” Pension Real Estate Association Quarterly, Fall 2007
Feature story describing global demographic trends affecting the real estate industry.

“Global Aging: The New New Thing: The Big Picture of Population Change,” November 2007
A six-page gatefold graphic display of population aging, including world maps, comparative charts of fertility declines, longevity gains, and workforce change, as well as individual country charts showing age structure changes. Read more

“Demographics of Russia,” July 2007
Background briefing on key demographic changes.

“How Population Aging Differs Across Countries: A Briefing on Global Demographics,” March 2007
Overview prepared for the March 2007 US State Department Summit on Global Aging. The compendium of charts, maps, and analysis provides an overview of population aging, highlighting demographic changes that are already underway or will soon unfold, and illustrating stark differences across countries. Read more