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United Nations' Population Estimates & Projections

posted on 11:25 AM, March 31, 2015

We spend a lot of our time here at Urban Futures contemplating the future (in an empirical way), so we were excited to get our hands on the United Nations' latest population projections. Once we mapped the data for all countries around the world and saw some of the patterns that were emerging, we got even more excited--so much so that we wanted to share them with you in this interactive map.

In it you can compare countries' current and projected total population sizes and age compositions, as well as their pace of future growth (or decline).

A few highlights emerged for us:

  • While conversations about demographic or economic change often gravitate towards China due to its perceived high growth potential, the consequences of its one-child policy are evident in the demographic projections. For example, while China is projected to grow by 12.5 million residents (only one percent!) between 2015 and 2045, over that same period its working-age population (those between 20 and 64) is expected to decline by 13 percent. At the same time, its seniors’ population is projected to expand by 143 percent. This monumental demographic shift will have significant (and negative) implications for China’s economy in the long-term.
  • The projections for India are staggering: 314 million more residents are expected in that country by 2045 (for 25 percent growth), with its working-age population expected to grow by 34 percent, or 246 million people. While China has earned a reputation for being "the world's factory", India may have the demographic blueprint to fill that role in the coming years.
  • Closer to home, the projections for the United States warrant comment as they have more direct implications for Canada's economy. The UN expects the US population to grow by almost 70 million people by 2045, the size equivalent of two current-day Canadas, and more than five times the growth expected for China. And while growth in the US working-age segment is expected to be ten percent over the next 30 years (versus 21 percent overall), the consequences of its post-World War II baby boom will certainly be felt: aging boomers will see the US seniors' population grow at almost four times the rate of the population as a whole, at 75 percent.
  • Here in Canada, the UN expects growth of 23 percent between 2015 and 2045 through the addition of 8.3 million people. In comparison, Urban Futures' current national projections are slightly more robust, as we expect 24 percent growth through the addition of 8.5 million people over the same period. Assessments of the impact of aging are similar between the two projections, with both expecting Canada's seniors' population to grow by more than 85 percent by 2045.

A couple of other interesting factoids to share at the dinner table include the following:

  • Russia is expected to see its population decline by more people between 2015 and 2045 than any other country in the world: the projected net loss of almost 18.2 million people is equivalent to roughly half of Canada's current-day population.
  • By 2045 Japan will (continue to) have the largest proportion of its population in the 65-plus age group of any country, at 36 percent; in absolute terms, there will be more people in Japan's seniors' age group (almost 40 million) than there are people (of all ages) living in Canada today.