Age Dependency Ratio by Country 2022

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Age dependency ratio is an economic metric that tracks the ratio between "economically dependent" people (children under 15 and adults 65 and over) and "economically productive" residents (people aged 15-64) in a given country. Dependency ratio can be expressed as a simple number or as a percentage and is computed by dividing the number of producers by the number of dependents, then multiplying by 100. For example, if a fictional country was home to 200 producers and 70 dependents, its dependency ratio would be (70/200) * 100, which would be written as either 35 or 35%.

The age dependency ratio helps governments, banks, universities, and other large organizations track the balance of ages within a country's population. This, in turn, helps with processes including determining the amount of funding needed by social programs devoted to children and the elderly, anticipating a population's level of financial stress, or gauging the likelihood of civil unrest. Age dependency ratios typically includes both the young and the old (total ADR), but may also be divided to include only individuals under 15 (children/young ADR), or over 65 (aged/elderly/old ADR).

Top 10 Countries with the Highest Total Age Dependency Ratios*:

  1. Niger — 108.92
  2. Mali — 96.86
  3. Somalia — 95.70
  4. Chad — 95.09
  5. DR Congo — 94.71
  6. Angola — 93.64
  7. Uganda — 90.70
  8. Burundi — 90.51
  9. Mozambique — 87.46
  10. Burkina Faso — 86.98

* Data per World Bank 2022, data year 2021

As a rule, high dependency ratios are considered a negative condition, as they put extra pressure on the economy and require earners to support more people with the same limited assets and income. A family made up of two wage earners and a single child, for example, requires fewer financial resources to support than does a family made up of two wage earners with five children and two elderly dependents.

Top 10 Countries with the Lowest Total Age Dependency Ratios*:

  1. Qatar — 18.38
  2. United Arab Emirates — 19.53
  3. Bahrain — 26.51
  4. Maldives — 31.01
  5. Kuwait — 32.49
  6. Oman — 34.22
  7. Singapore — 36.39
  8. Macau — 37.66
  9. Brunei — 38.67
  10. Saudi Arabia — 39.26

* Data per World Bank 2022, data year 2021

Qatar has the lowest age dependency ratio in the world at 18.38. Qatar has a relatively small population of fewer than 3 million people, but most are working professionals, a large percentage of whom are expatriates. As such, the traditional family model is less common in Qatar than in other countries.

As a rule, a low age dependency ratio is preferable and indicates a healthy economy in which there are enough jobs and workers to support those who are too young or too old to work. In certain circumstances, however, low dependency ratios could be a symptom of an undesirable condition. For example, low dependency ratios could reflect chronically low birth rates or fertility rates, which can lead to economic stagnation when the older generation ages out of the workforce and the country has too few younger people to replace them. Low dependency ratios can also indicate a lower life expectancy and high death rate, with too few people living long enough to age out of the workforce.

Top 10 Countries with the Highest Child Age Dependency Ratios*:

Rank Country Child ADR
1 Niger 103.50
2 Mali 92.00
3 Chad 90.19
4 Somalia 89.99
5 Angola 89.37
6 DR Congo 88.81
7 Uganda 86.86
8 Burundi 85.83
9 Burkina Faso 82.44
10 Mozambique 82.10

* Data per World Bank 2022, data year 2021

Niger's child dependency ratio of 103.5 is the highest in the world. This is a ratio of children aged 0-14 to adults aged 15-64. Plagued by instability, wars, military coups, and regime changes, Niger is one of the least-developed countries in the world. Most Nigerians live in deep poverty and many live in rural areas. Health care and education are often severely lacking. These conditions have combined with one of the world's shortest life expectancies to create a lopsided population in which there are currently more children under the age of 15 than there are adults between the ages of 15 and 64.

Top 10 Countries with the Highest Aged Age Dependency Ratios*:

Rank Country Child ADR
1 Japan 48.64
2 Finland 37.39
3 Italy 37.12
4 Portugal 36.18
5 Greece 35.41
6 United States Virgin Islands 35.22
7 Germany 34.35
8 France 34.33
9 Malta 34.21
10 Bulgaria 34.21

* Data per World Bank 2022, data year 2021

Individuals 65 years of age or older are classified as "aged" (sometimes written "old" or "elderly") in terms of age dependency ratios. The country with the highest elder dependency ratio is Japan, with a score of 48. This means that there are 48 seniors for every 100 adults (15-64), which is a significant percentage of the population. Japan's high aged ADR is due to multiple factors, including the Japanese culture's attitude toward its elders and the Japanese lifestyle itself.

The Japanese have some of the highest life expectancies in the world, as nutrition and exercise are taken very seriously and encouraged. Moreover, respect for the elderly is a major part of Japanese culture. It is considered extremely rude to refuse help to an elderly person. As a result of these factors, many of Japan's older residents are well-cared for by their families, their neighbors, and even strangers and the state itself.

Challenges to the age dependency ratio

The age dependency ratio is occasionally criticized for the ages chosen to serve as the dividing years between age categories. While some countries do consider 14 to be the "age of majority", in countries such as the United States, that age can rise to 18 or 21 years of age depending upon the state. In these countries, the national age of majority is used to calculate ADR, which can create a statistical incongruity in which one country's child dependency rate includes individuals aged 0-14 and another country's rate includes individuals aged 0-18.

Here are the 10 countries with the highest ADR percentage:

  1. Qatar - 18.38%
  2. United Arab Emirates - 19.53%
  3. Bahrain - 26.51%
  4. Maldives - 31.01%
  5. Kuwait - 32.49%
  6. Oman - 34.22%
  7. Singapore - 36.39%
  8. Macau - 37.66%
  9. Brunei - 38.67%
  10. Saudi Arabia - 39.26%

Age Dependency Ratio by Country 2022

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Age Dependency Ratio by Country 2022

Note: All data sourced from World Bank 2022, data year 2021. Percentages shown are computed against a base of 100. For example, Niger's world-leading 108.92% total ADR represents a ratio of 108.92/100, which indicates that the country is burdened with nearly 109 dependents (103.5 children and nearly 5.5 elders) for every 100 working-age residents.

Age Dependency Ratio by Country 2022

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