Connect with us

Demographics

Charted: The Rapid Decline of Global Birth Rates

Published

on

Multiple charts tracking the birth rates for the 49 most populous countries of the world, accounting for 85% of the world’s population.

Charted: The Rapid Decline in Global Birth Rates

In 1798, British economist Thomas Malthus proposed a groundbreaking theory now known as the “Malthusian Trap”—suggesting that human population growth is exponential and thus would outpace the linear growth of resources such as food supply.

He worried that this runaway population growth would become unsustainable, eventually relying on sudden shock events—wars, disasters, famines—to reset the population to more sustainable levels. And over the next 200 years, the world population skyrocketed from 1 billion to 8 billion people on the planet.

However, as it turns out, no such shock events were required to turn the tide of population growth. Instead, it’s been rapidly declining birth rates across the world that seem to be leading to an unthinkable outcome for Malthus: a gradually plateauing or even shrinking global population.

In the visualization above, Pablo Alvarez has visualized the crude birth rate for the 49 most populous countries of the world in 2021, using data from the UN’s World Population Prospects 2022 to examine changes since 1950.

Understanding Birth Rates vs Fertility Rates

Birth rates are commonly measured using a metric called the “crude birth rate” (CBR), which represents the number of live births per 1,000 individuals in a given population during a specific period—usually one year.

The measured decline in CBR is also a result of plummeting fertility rates across the globe. Not to be confused with birth rates, fertility rates measure how many children a woman will have over the course of her lifetime.

While a country’s birth rate is directly impacted by the fertility rate, it also takes into account other factors: population size, age structure of the population, access to contraception, cultural norms, government policies, and socioeconomic conditions.

Birth Rates of the Most Populated Countries

Here’s a snapshot of the CBR for the 49 most populous countries of the world at different years from 1950 to 2021.

Country195019902021% Change (1950-2021)
🇦🇫 Afghanistan48.8751.4235.84-27%
🇩🇿 Algeria51.0530.7621.52-58%
🇦🇴 Angola46.1551.3438.81-16%
🇦🇷 Argentina26.0021.9913.90-47%
🇧🇩 Bangladesh46.5234.9717.82-62%
🇧🇷 Brazil46.4324.8412.88-72%
🇨🇦 Canada26.8015.469.82-63%
🇨🇳 China41.0524.447.63-81%
🇨🇴 Colombia46.7427.3714.20-70%
🇨🇩 DRC46.0246.0142.05-9%
🇪🇬 Egypt54.2033.2122.56-58%
🇪🇹 Ethiopia49.4050.0532.38-34%
🇫🇷 France20.7713.3410.50-49%
🇩🇪 Germany16.2211.309.17-43%
🇬🇭 Ghana46.7640.3727.55-41%
🇮🇳 India43.8431.8216.42-63%
🇮🇩 Indonesia40.6425.5216.42-60%
🇮🇷 Iran50.1432.4613.70-73%
🇮🇶 Iraq45.7339.4127.37-40%
🇮🇹 Italy19.7010.016.93-65%
🇯🇵 Japan28.349.916.57-77%
🇰🇪 Kenya49.4743.5227.68-44%
🇲🇾 Malaysia44.3127.8915.24-66%
🇲🇽 Mexico49.3129.3014.86-70%
🇲🇦 Morocco51.0829.2317.55-66%
🇲🇿 Mozambique46.6646.3836.60-22%
🇲🇲 Myanmar45.5827.4817.10-62%
🇳🇵 Nepal47.0638.1120.40-57%
🇳🇬 Nigeria45.6143.7937.12-19%
🇵🇰 Pakistan43.7243.1527.52-37%
🇵🇪 Peru48.1630.9017.62-63%
🇵🇭 Philippines49.8433.2621.81-56%
🇵🇱 Poland30.8514.289.49-69%
🇷🇺 Russia28.8013.529.64-67%
🇸🇦 Saudi Arabia53.3434.4117.47-67%
🇿🇦 South Africa41.6531.1519.82-52%
🇰🇷 South Korea40.0315.695.58-86%
🇪🇸 Spain20.0110.307.55-62%
🇸🇩 Sudan47.7543.0933.60-30%
🇹🇿 Tanzania47.7543.7836.21-24%
🇹🇭 Thailand43.8419.739.00-79%
🇹🇷 Türkiye46.3925.8714.68-68%
🇺🇸 U.S.22.8116.7311.06-52%
🇺🇬 Uganda52.4251.3736.80-30%
🇬🇧 UK16.4413.8810.08-39%
🇺🇦 Ukraine22.9512.767.72-66%
🇺🇿 Uzbekistan39.8533.9823.55-41%
🇻🇳 Vietnam38.8228.5115.01-61%
🇾🇪 Yemen52.5950.6430.54-42%

Every country on the list has seen a decline in birth rates in the last 70 years, with some declines more staggering than others. For example, China recorded 41 births per 1,000 people in 1950. By 2021, that number had fallen to just 7.6, a 81% decrease.

South Korea, the 29th most populous country in the world in 2021, saw an even larger 86% drop in its birth rate since 1950. In fact, almost every single country in this dataset has seen a double-digit fall in their birth rates over the past 70 years. Only the Democratic Republic of Congo has seen a single-digit percentage decline between 1950 and 2021.

Why are Global Birth Rates Falling?

For the 49 most populated countries in 2021, birth rates have halved on average in the last 70 years:

49 Most Populated Countries195019902021
Average Birth Rate40.9930.1819.50
Median Birth Rate45.7330.7617.10

But while the thought of a shrinking world population may seem worrisome, declining birth rates are generally thought of as a triumph of rapid socio-economic development.

As countries progress and living standards improve, there is a shift in societal norms and aspirations. For example, expanded education and career opportunities for women allow the pursuit of professional growth and personal goals, with some women choosing to delay starting a family or having smaller families.

Growing urbanization is another key driver of declining birth rates, characterized by smaller living spaces, increased focus on careers, and limited support networks. Another is the growing access to family planning services and contraceptives, particularly since the 1970s.

What are the Future Consequences?

The biggest consequence of declining birth rates—and one that is already being seen in many parts of the world—is a rapidly aging population.

With fewer children being born, the proportion of elderly individuals increases relative to the working-age population. This demographic imbalance poses challenges for social welfare systems, healthcare, and pension schemes.

Declining birth rates can also impact the labor market and economic productivity. A smaller workforce may lead to labor shortages, skill gaps, and reduced innovation. And shrinking populations reduce consumer demand, a cornerstone of the global economy, which may trigger a restructure of the current growth model of development.

green check mark icon

This article was published as a part of Visual Capitalist's Creator Program, which features data-driven visuals from some of our favorite Creators around the world.

Subscribe to Visual Capitalist
Click for Comments

Countries

Mapped: World’s Top 40 Largest Military Budgets

War in Europe has caused Ukraine’s military spend to jump up by 640%. How do the world’s largest military budgets compare?

Published

on

A map of the top 40 largest military budgets in the world in 2022.

Mapped: World’s Top 40 Largest Military Budgets

In the final year of World War II, the U.S. spent about 38% of its GDP on its military. When adjusted for inflation, the military budget over those four years of war came to a staggering $4.1 trillion in 2020 dollars.

Almost 80 years later, modern day military spending isn’t much of a far cry from World War II budgets. The top spenders have continued to increase their military capabilities, while war in Ukraine has caused countries in the region to re-evaluate their budgets as well.

In 2022, global military budgets hit an all-time high of $2.2 trillion, according to data released by Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), the eighth consecutive year of increase. This post looks at the top 40 largest military budgets in the world.

The Largest Military Budgets in 2022

The United States accounts for almost 40% of global military expenditures, with its 2022 spend coming to $877 billion.

Here are the top 40 largest military budgets in the world for 2022 in U.S. dollars:

RankCountryMilitary Budget (Billions)% of World
Military Spend
1🇺🇸 U.S.$876.939.0%
2🇨🇳 China$292.013.0%
3🇷🇺 Russia$86.43.9%
4🇮🇳 India$81.43.6%
5🇸🇦 Saudi Arabia$75.03.3%
6🇬🇧 UK$68.53.1%
7🇩🇪 Germany$55.82.5%
8🇫🇷 France$53.62.4%
9🇰🇷 South Korea$46.42.1%
10🇯🇵 Japan$46.02.1%
11🇺🇦 Ukraine$44.02.0%
12🇮🇹 Italy$33.51.5%
13🇦🇺 Australia$32.31.4%
14🇨🇦 Canada$26.91.2%
15🇮🇱 Israel$23.41.0%
16🇪🇸 Spain$20.30.9%
17🇧🇷 Brazil$20.20.9%
18🇵🇱 Poland$16.60.7%
19🇳🇱 Netherlands$15.60.7%
20🇶🇦 Qatar$15.40.7%
21🇹🇼 Taiwan$12.50.6%
22🇸🇬 Singapore$11.70.5%
23🇹🇷 Türkiye$10.60.5%
24🇵🇰 Pakistan$10.30.5%
25🇨🇴 Colombia$9.90.4%
26🇩🇿 Algeria$9.10.4%
27🇮🇩 Indonesia$9.00.4%
28🇲🇽 Mexico$8.50.4%
29🇳🇴 Norway$8.40.4%
30🇰🇼 Kuwait$8.20.4%
31🇬🇷 Greece$8.10.4%
32🇸🇪 Sweden$7.70.3%
33🇧🇪 Belgium$6.90.3%
34🇮🇷 Iran$6.80.3%
35🇨🇭 Switzerland$6.10.3%
36🇴🇲 Oman$5.80.3%
37🇹🇭 Thailand$5.70.3%
38🇨🇱 Chile$5.60.2%
39🇩🇰 Denmark$5.50.2%
40🇷🇴 Romania$5.20.2%

China, ranked second in absolute terms, accounts for another 13% of world military expenditure at $292 billion.

Russia, India and Saudi Arabia round out the top five biggest military budgets in 2022. Add in the UK to the mix (#6 rank), and these countries all had military expenditures that made up at least 3% of global spend.

Comparatively, the lowest budgets on the top 40 ranged include Romania at $5.2 billion, Denmark at $5.5 billion, and Chile at $5.6 billion. They each account for just 0.2% of the world’s military budgets in 2022, and of course there are many countries with even smaller spends.

Largest Military Budget Increases in 2022

Russia’s position as the third-largest military spender is a recent development, as the country’s military spend had a 9% increase between 2021 and 2022, according to SIPRI estimates.

On the other side of Russia’s invasion, Ukraine was the top 40 military budget with the largest annual increase in 2022, surging nearly six and a half times above its 2021 expenditures.

Country% Change
(2021-2022)
Rank Change
(2021-2022)
🇺🇦 Ukraine640%+25
🇶🇦 Qatar27%+2
🇸🇦 Saudi Arabia16%+3
🇧🇪 Belgium13%0
🇳🇱 Netherlands12%0
🇸🇪 Sweden12%-1
🇵🇱 Poland11%0
🇷🇺 Russia9.2%+2
🇩🇰 Denmark8.8%+3
🇪🇸 Spain7.3%-1
🇳🇴 Norway6.2%0
🇮🇳 India6.0%-1
🇯🇵 Japan5.9%-1
🇮🇷 Iran4.6%+5
🇨🇳 China4.2%0
🇬🇧 UK3.7%-2
🇨🇦 Canada3.0%-1
🇸🇬 Singapore2.8%+1
🇩🇪 Germany2.3%0
🇮🇩 Indonesia1.3%0
🇨🇴 Colombia1.1%-1
🇺🇸 U.S.0.7%0
🇫🇷 France0.6%-2
🇬🇷 Greece0.6%-1
🇨🇭 Switzerland0.4%-1
🇹🇼 Taiwan0.4%-1
🇦🇺 Australia0.3%-1
🇵🇰 Pakistan-2.0%-3
🇰🇷 South Korea-2.5%+1
🇷🇴 Romania-2.6%+1
🇴🇲 Oman-3.0%+1
🇩🇿 Algeria-3.7%-1
🇮🇱 Israel-4.2%-1
🇮🇹 Italy-4.5%-1
🇨🇱 Chile-6.2%-3
🇧🇷 Brazil-7.9%-1
🇲🇽 Mexico-9.7%0
🇰🇼 Kuwait-11%-4
🇹🇭 Thailand-11%-5
🇹🇷 Türkiye-26%-6

Ukraine’s dramatic increase represents the highest single-year jump ever recorded by SIPRI, painting a vivid before-and-after picture of a nation engaged in conflict.

Although no other country comes close in matching Ukraine’s surge in defense spending, Qatar saw a substantial increase of 27% over the last year, marking a continuing trend over the last decade of significantly bolstering its military.

Additionally, Saudi Arabia, along with four European nations (Belgium, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Poland), have registered year-over-year changes of over 10%.

On the flipside, 13 of the nations with the largest military budgets decreased spend from 2021, including top 15 spenders such as South Korea, Italy, and Israel.

The largest drop was seen by Türkiye, with an estimated 26% reduction in military budget. This drop may be linked to Türkiye’s inflation problem, which saw prices rise 72.3% in 2022—effectively decreasing the purchasing power of their currency in relative terms to other nations.

The Specter of War in Europe

With an ongoing conflict in the region and large financial powerhouses, its no surprise that eight of the top 10 countries with the most significant increases in military spending are located in Europe.

Consequently, European military budgets have reached levels not witnessed since the end of the Cold War.

And amid escalating geopolitical concerns, countries in Asia such as India, Japan, and China have also ramped up their defense spending. This is an indication of simmering global flashpoints such as India and China’s border skirmishes, the longstanding South China Sea territorial conflict, and concerns surrounding Taiwan’s sovereignty.

Source: Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

Data note: SIPRI’s military expenditure data collection began in 1949, thus its records do not account for all expenditure that occurred during both World Wars.

Please see SIPRI’s methodologies page for more details on how they collect their data and create estimates.

Continue Reading

Subscribe

Popular