Population Pyramids

One of the most informative sites on the web is:

US Census Bureau’s International Data Base (IDB)

For we graph junkies the dynamic population pyramids on the site are candy.

For example:

US Graphic

I’ve found several fun things at this site:

  • Median ages climb to astounding heights in most of the “advanced” nations by 2050.

    We’re talking median ages in the low 50’s. Heck, the US median age was in the high 20’s in 1975. Look at Nigeria today. 18 or 19. In 2050, Nigeria looks like the US anywhere in the last half-century.

    Keep in mind that for most of human history, the median age was well under 20.

    When you think about swords and sorcerers, middle ages times, think kids. That’s what people of the day were.

  • Certain countries’ pyramids’ 80+ female bars go mondo by 2050.

    Both Japan and Italy were striking before the web site’s pyramid graphics added age ranges up to 100+ years.

    You really notice when a bar for the age of 80+ years is dramatically longer than any of the other bars.

    The median age may be in the low 50’s, but, in a way, the most common person in the country is a woman over 80. I’m thinking that such a country will not be noted for its dynamicism.

  • The US baby boom dies out in favor of the echo generation.

    The turnover year is 2015 (kinda). That’s when the biggest 5-year birth group in the US switches from one in the 1955-1965 range to 1985-1990.

    Keep that in mind when you read opinion pieces about how the US has been on such a thoughtless spending spree and, golly, we have bad times coming to us, if there is a God in heaven.

    A slightly less negative view might be: the US has moved in to a period of child raising that’s at the highest expense level. Anyone who has gone through that period can understand how perhaps a wee bit of spending, painful as it might be for the frugal, is not unexpected.

    My take is the higher education bubble is gonna burst in the next few years.

  • Speaking of dynamicism, look where the centers of the universe go by 2050:

    Countries and Areas Ranked by Population: 1950
    Rank Country or Area                          Population
       1 China                                   562,579,779
       2 India                                   369,880,000
       3 United States                           152,271,000
       4 Russia                                  101,936,816
       5 Japan                                    83,805,000
       6 Indonesia                                82,978,392
       7 Germany                                  68,374,572
       8 Brazil                                   53,443,075
       9 United Kingdom                           50,127,000
      10 Italy                                    47,105,000
    Note:  Data updated 12-15-2008 (Release notes).Source: U.S. Census Bureau, International Data Base.
    Countries and Areas Ranked by Population: 2050
    Rank Country or Area                          Population
       1 India                                 1,807,878,574
       2 China                                 1,424,161,948
       3 United States                           439,010,253
       4 Indonesia                               313,020,847
       5 Pakistan                                295,224,598
       6 Ethiopia                                278,283,137
       7 Nigeria                                 264,262,405
       8 Brazil                                  260,692,493
       9 Bangladesh                              233,587,279
      10 Congo (Kinshasa)                        189,310,849
    Note:  Data updated 12-15-2008 (Release notes).Source: U.S. Census Bureau, International Data Base.

    There’s a trend to two places: The Indian sub-continent and a kinda central-to-northeast Africa area. That Africa area is bigger than it looks because so many of the countries in that area are little. They don’t make it to the top 10.

  • Down the road, which country looks best, demographically?

    Easy answer: The US.

    The US continues to be an immigrant’s dream. So the demographics stays well balanced ‘tween old and young. The other “advanced” countries end up being hyper-Japans, old folks homes. The big kahuna of the other countries, China, falls off a demographic cliff in a couple decades. China’s median age skyrockets then. Think “greying, 1-child-per-family, spoiled brats”.

Fun stuff.

Techie details:

Apparently, the whole data set is in the WinDOS self-extracting zip file,


This file contains binary data and an ancient DOS program to view the data. XP under VMware is not amused. And you won’t be either.

Textually formatted numbers for the web site’s pyramids are hidden behind HTTP POSTs containing a gob of <input type=”hidden”> values. I’ve not done an automated extraction from the site. I did try a simple tzserver send of the Firefox HTTP headers to get numbers, but had no server response. Must have done something wrong.

The numbers behind the pyramid graphs may be had from pages such as (link is to the US):


Better, simpler numbers may be had from data pages such as (link is to the US):


Here is the US table as retrieved from the population pyramid POST.

Here is the US table retrieved from the data page POST.

Leave a Reply