Youth population trends, 1950-2100

I mistakenly linked this article when talking about Money on Missions vs. Halloween Pet Costumes in the latest Roundup. If you’re looking for that article, click here.

In 1950, the world had 2.5 billion people. 338 million (14%) were under the age of 5, and 869 million (35%) were under the age of 15.

By 2020, the world’s total population had risen to 7.7 billion. 677 million (9%) were under the age of 5, and 1.9 billion (25%) were under the age of 15.

People don’t necessarily live markedly longer. In 1950, there were 34 million people over the age of 100, comprising about 0.001% of the world’s population (or about 1 in every 74 million people). By 2020, this number had risen to 19 million—but this still represents just 0.17% of the world, or about 1 in every 569,000. Centenarians are more common but still rare. What’s really changed: infant mortality has been cut dramatically, and fertility has fallen. Fewer babies dying, fewer babies being born, and people living slightly longer equates to aging of populations.

By 2050, the number of infants (under the age of 5) is projected to be 690 million, which will be the peak—while the number of over-75s will hit over 1 billion in 2045. From that point on, the number of under-5s will continue to decline. By 2100, estimates are that under-5s will fall to 623 million (5.73% of the world), while over-75s will reach 1.3 billion.

However, it’s important to note these trends aren’t the same in every country. If we divide the world into “more” and “less” developed areas, the differences are dramatic:

By 2100, there will be more under-15s in the “less developed” world (1,714 million) than there are people in the “more-developed” world (1,244 million). (In fact, under-5 infants will equal nearly half the population of the “more developed” world!)

To bring this point home a little more, consider:

  • in 2050, the total population of the North American region will be 425 million. Europe’s will be 710 million.

  • Africa’s under-15 population will then be 797 million, out of a total of 2,489 million people.

  • Asia’s under-15 population will be 943 million, out of a total of 5,290 million.

The implications of this for world evangelization bear consideration.

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