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Population Aging

World's Oldest And Youngest Populations

Using the percentage of the population age sixty-five and older as the index to an older population, the older populations of the world at the beginning of the twenty-first century are the wealthier countries of the world—those of North America and Europe, plus Japan. The list is led by Italy (18.2 percent in 2000), followed by Greece (17.2 percent), Sweden (17.2 percent), Belgium (17.1 percent), and Japan (17.0 percent) (National Center for Health Statistics). The United States is twenty-seventh on this list, with 12.7 percent of the population age sixty-five and older.

By contrast, the younger nations are located especially in the developing regions of Africa, western Asia, and southern Asia. Using the percent under age fifteen as the index of a youthful population, the youngest populations in the year 2000 were Uganda and Yemen (both with 49 percent), followed by Burkina Faso, Niger, Burundi, Angola, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (all with 48 percent). The forty youngest countries (all with more than 40 percent of the population under age fifteen) are in sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East. In these countries, the population age sixty-five and older averages about 3–4 percent of the total. The obverse of that is that in the forty oldest countries of the world, the population under age fifteen tends to average only about 16–20 percent of the population.

Within the United States, the state of Florida exceeds all others in its percentage of the population that is sixty-five or older (18 percent in 2000), followed by West Virginia and Pennsylvania (both at 15.6 percent), Iowa (15.2 percent), and North Dakota (15.0 percent). At the other extreme, the youngest states are, in order, Alaska, Utah, Georgia, California, and Texas.

Additional topics

Medicine EncyclopediaAging Healthy - Part 3Population Aging - World's Oldest And Youngest Populations, Age Distribution Of A Population, Racial/ethnic Differences In Population Aging In The United States