DESK REVIEWS | 01.01.01. Total population size and structure

DESK REVIEW | 01.01.01. Total population size and structure

According to the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE), the total population of Brazil in February 2019 was of 209,575 thousand people, of which 48.90% were men and 51.10% were women.  Around 21.35% of the population are aged 14 years old or less, 69.43% are aged between 15 and 64 years old, and around 9.22% are aged 65 and over (Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics, 2019f). It is important to point out that these proportions vary among the five geographic regions in Brazil (North, Northeast, Central-west, South and Southeast). For example, in 2012 the proportion of people aged 65 and over was 4.5% in the Northern region, 7.2% in the North-Eastern region, 8% in both Southern and South-Eastern regions, and 5.8% in the Central-West region (Brazilian Ministry of Health, 2019o).


Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics. (2019f). Population projections.

Brazilian Ministry of Health. (2019o). TabNet Win32 3.0: População Residente—Brasil.

The total population size of Hong Kong at the end of 2018, is 7.49 million, of which 45.7% were male and 54.3% were female (Census and Statistics Department, 2019e). The majority of the population falls within the age range of 25-54 years (45.3%), followed by 65 years and over (17.3%), 55-64 years (16.2%), 0-14 years (11.5%) and 15-24 years (9.6%). In particular, the size of population aged 65 years and over is 1.30 million with 46.7% male and 53.3% female (Census and Statistics Department, 2019f).

The population of Hong Kong is ageing rapidly. The population median age increased from 40.0 years in 2007 to 43.9 years in 2017 (Census and Statistics Department, 2018c). Furthermore, it was estimated that it would continue to increase to 50.9 years in 2036 and further to 54.5 years in 2066 (Census and Statistics Department, 2017b).

Along with the trend of population ageing, Hong Kong is also facing an increasing dependency ratio. The total dependency ratio (number of persons aged under 15 and aged 65 and over per 1000 persons aged 15-64) was 386 in 2017 (Census and Statistics Department, 2018c), with a notable projected increase to 844 in 2066 (Census and Statistics Department, 2017b). The old-age dependency ratio (number of persons aged 65 and over per 1,000 persons aged 15-64) was 228 in 2017 (Census and Statistics Department, 2018c), with a notable projected increase to 674 in 2066 (Census and Statistics Department, 2017b).


Census and Statistics Department. (2017b). Hong Kong Population Projections 2017–2066. In: Census and Statistics Department Hong Kong.

Census and Statistics Department. (2018c). Hong Kong Annual Digest of Statistics 2018 Edition. Hong Kong. Retrieved from

Census and Statistics Department. (2019e). Table 001: Population by Sex. Retrieved 9 October, 2019, from Census and Statistics Department, , HKSAR

Census and Statistics Department. (2019f). Table 002: Population by Age Group and Sex. Retrieved 9 October, 2019, from Census and Statistics Department, HKSAR

The current population of India is 1.3 billion people, which accounts for 18% of the total global population (United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division, 2017). Populations projections for 2021 state that 25.5% of the population are between the age of 0-14 years, 64.4% are between the age of 15-59 years and 10.1% are 60 years and above (National Commission of Population (NCP), 2019).

With respect to sex ratio, as per Census of India 2011 (Census of India: Gender Composition, 2011), there are reportedly 940 females to 1000 males in India.


Census of India: Gender Composition (2011). Available from:

National Commission of Population. (2019). Census of India 2011: Population Projections for India and States 2011-2036. REPORT OF THE TECHNICAL GROUP ON POPULATION PROJECTIONS. National Health Mission. Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. Available from:

United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (2017). World Population Prospects. The 2017 Revision. Available from:

Indonesia, with a population of 262,787,403 (July 2018) currently ranks as the fourth most populated country in the world following China, India, and the United States (CIA World Factbook, 2019). The population of Indonesia has been increasing constantly since the 1960s (population of 87,792,515 in 1960). Between 2015 and 2018, the population has grown by 4,625,290 (Subdirectorate of Statistical Demographic, 2013; World Bank, 2019a). Based on the statistics of Indonesia’s population projection, it is estimated that the population size will increase to 305,652,400 by 2035 (Subdirectorate of Statistical Demographic, 2013).

In Indonesia, children aged 0 to 14 years make up 24.63% (male: approx. 33 million; female: approx. 32 million) of the population. The group of the 15 to 24 years old, with 16.94% makes up a slightly smaller proportion (male: approx. 23 million; female approx. 22 million). The age group 25 to 54 year represents the largest share of the Indonesian population in 2018 (42.44%; male: approx. 57 million; female: approx. 54 million). The share of the 55 to 64-year-old with 8.73% is considerably smaller (male: approx. 10 million; female: approx. 12 million). The age group 65 and older reflects 7.26% of the Indonesia population. As in the age group 55-64 years, there are more older women (approx. 11 million) than men (approx. 8 million) among those aged 65 and older (CIA World Factbook, 2019). According to United Nations Population Fund’s report, Indonesia’s population older people is the sixth largest in the world (UNFPA & HelpAge International, 2012).


CIA World Factbook. (2019). Indonesia.

Subdirectorate of Statistical Demographic. (2013). Indonesia Population Projection 2010-2035. BPS – Statistics Indonesia.

UNFPA & HelpAge International. (2012). Ageing in the Twenty-First Century: A Celebration and A Challenge. In United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), New York, and HelpAge International, London. UNFPA-HelpAge.

World Bank. (2019a). Indonesia.

Jamaica is the largest English-speaking and third-largest island in the Caribbean, with an estimated total population of 2.73 million as of 2018 (STATIN, 2018). Between 2002 and 2018, Jamaica’s population saw a steady increase which peaked in 2016 and subsequently declined thereafter. This total population trend is consistent with that of males and females. Most of the population falls between age range 25-59 (47.4%), followed by 0–14-year-olds (21.0%), 15-24 (19.5%) and 60 years and older (13.2%) (STATIN, 2018).


Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN). (2018). Population statistics 2018.

Globally, Kenya ranks top 30 in terms of its population size (Worldometers, 2019), with more than 70% of the population situated in rural areas. The 2019 census (conducted every 10 years) revealed a total population of 47,564,296 (males: 23,548,056; females: 24,014,716 and intersex population: 1,524), 12,143, 913 households, with an average household size of 3.9. Kenya covers a land area of 580,876.3 km2 and a population density of 82 per km2(Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS), 2019).


Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS). (2019). 2019 Kenya Population and Housing Census Volume I : Population By County and Sub-County (Vol. I). Nairobi, Kenya.

Worldometers. (2019). Kenya Population (LIVE).

According to the 2015 Inter-census Survey, the total population in Mexico was 119,938,473 persons, of which 51.4% were women and 48.6% men. There are 94.4 men for every 100 women. The median age of the population was 27 years (INEGI, 2015b). The structure of the population reflects the interaction between the birth rate and mortality over time. Comparing the population structure by age in the years 2000 and 2015, we observe the typical pattern followed by ageing societies where the younger population groups decrease (the base starts shrinking) while middle age and older age groups increase. For the first time in 2015, the numbers of people aged 60 years and older is larger than the numbers aged 0 to 4 years old, which indicates a decrease in the proportion of children and an increase in older adults. Older people represent 5% of the total population for the year 2000, and 6.2% in 2010, and 7.2% in 2015 (INEGI, 2015c).

The median age for 2015 was 27 years, a notable increase from the 22 years reported in the year 2000. However, there are notable differences between the different states, reflecting the heterogeneous development, economic transition, and ageing process in each state. For example, in the state of Chiapas, located in the south of the country, the median age is 23 years, while for Mexico City it is 33 (INEGI, 2018b). This heterogeneity is also observed in the aging index[2]. In 2015, while on average there were 38 adults 60 years and older per 100 children, there were 62 in Mexico City and 24 in the state of Chiapas (González, 2015). 

Old-age dependency ratio

The total dependency ratio[3] in Mexico in 2015 was 53 older adults per 100 younger individuals. Traditionally international organisations have used this ratio to express how those who are assumed to be not economically independent (the youngest and the oldest population groups) depend on those who are (adolescent and younger adults), it is clear that worldwide this is not necessarily true as both groups have changed significantly. On one hand, young adults in many countries do not move out of the parental household as early as they did in the past, continuing to be dependent on their parents, and on the other hand, large percentages of older adults continue to be physically and economically independent well beyond the age of 60 or 65, and therefore alternative estimations have been considered (United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, 2017b).

There is variation in the dependency ratio between states within the country, the state of Chiapas has the highest total ratio of dependence, 64 per 100 people of working age, and this can be attributed to a high level of fertility. On the other hand, migration also affects this indicator, since there are states with a high reception of working-age population, such as Quintana Roo, Baja California Sur, and Queretaro. While Mexico City has a low ratio of total dependence, it has the highest dependency ratio in old age compared to the other states of the country (INEGI, 2015c).


The rapid demographic transition currently taking place in the country reflects the decline in fertility in the last decades, going from a Global Fertility Rate (GFR) of 5.73 children born alive per women 15 to 49 years old, to a GFR of 1.9 in the year 2000, and 1.7 in 2015, with a total decrease of 31.8% in the number of children born alive (INEGI, 2015b). Socioeconomic situation and women’s education have a differentiated impact on GFR, while women with low or no educational attainment have an average of 3.2 children, women with medium and higher level of education have 1.1 (INEGI, 2015b). However, Mexico had an increment in adolescent pregnancies (among women aged 15 to 19) which grew by almost 6 points between 2009 and 2015 (INEGI, 2015b). Women living in larger urban areas had lower global fertility rates than those living in urban centres with less than 100,000 in habitants (2.0 vs 2.8 respectively) (INEGI, 2015b).

[2] The aging Index is estimated as the ratio of population 60 years and older for every 100 individuals less than 15 years.

[3] For Mexico, INEGI estimates the dependency ratio by dividing total of household members who are not of working age (0 to 14 and 60 years and older) by the total of those considered of working age (15 to 59 years old).


González, K. (2015). Envejecimiento demográfico en México: análisis comparativo entre las entidades federativas. In La Situación Demográfica de México 2015 (pp. 113–129). Consejo Nacional de Población.

INEGI. (2015a). Censo de Alojamientos de Asistencia Social.

INEGI. (2015b). Encuesta Intercensal 2015 Estados Unidos Mexicanos. Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Geografía, 1, 85–90.

INEGI. (2015c). Mortalidad. Esperanza de vida al nacimiento por entidad federativa.

INEGI. (2018b). INEGI. Datos.

United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, P. D. (2017b). World population prospects: the 2017 revision. Volume II: Demographic Profiles, 2, 1–883.

Table 1 (Statistics NZ, n.d.) outlines the figures compiled by Statistics NZ for the NZ resident population as of December 2019. At that time, the total population was 4.95 million, subsequently crossing the 5 million marks in March 2020. The median age of the population is 37.5 years with a slight preponderance of females. Life expectancy for males is 80 years, with females living an additional 3.5 years longer.

Table 1: NZ population as of December 2019 by gender and sex ratio (Statistics NZ, n.d.)

  Year ended December 2019
Estimated resident population, as of 31 December 4,951,500
Males  2,437,700
Females  2,513,800
Median age (years)  37.5
Sex ratio (males per 100 females)  97

 Tables 2 and 3 (Statistics NZ, 2021) outline the age structure of the population from the most recent 2018 census and shows that 19.5% of the total population is aged under 15 years and 15.5% aged 65 years and older. The Pacific population in NZ has a much younger age structure, with a median age of 22.1 years and only 5.2% of the Pacific population aged 65 years or older. The Pacific population is increasing at a faster rate with an annual growth of 5.2% three times that of the population as a whole.

Table 2: Age bands, annual growth, and median age of the total NZ population and Pacific population at census 2018 (Statistics NZ, 2021)

NZ Population European Maori Pacific
Total (% of total population) 4,699,755   3,297,864 70.2% 775,836 16.5% 381,642  8.2%
Annual growth (2013-2018)   1.7%           5.2%
Median age (years)   37.3   41.4   25.4   23.4

Table 3

Age band NZ population European Maori Pacific
Number % of NZ population Number % of Europeans Number % of Maori Number % of Pacific
Under 15 923,403 19.5% 621,552 18.8% 248,784 32.1% 128,154 22.6%
15-64 3,061,185  65% 2.063,163 62.6% 478,800 61.7% 233,256  72.1%
65+ 715,167  15.5% 613,149 18.6% 48,252 6.2% 20,232  5.3%

Statistics NZ. (2021). National ethnic population projections: 2018(base)-2043. New Zealand Government Website. Available from:

Statistics NZ. (n.d.). Population. New Zealand Government Website. Available from:

The 2021 mid-year population estimates assert that the South African total population is at 60.1 million people (StatsSA, 2021). The South-African population is usually classified using the population groups that people use to describe themselves in the country’s census, and that have a historical basis in the ‘racial’ classification system of the Apartheid regime: Black African, Coloured, White, Indian/Asian, and Unspecified. The table below provides the breakdown of the population structure, as per these estimates:

Table 1: Mid-year estimates for South Africa by population group and sex for 2021[1]

Population group Male Female Total
Number % of total male population Number % of total female population Number % of total population
Black African 23 761 051 80,9 24 879 278 80,9 48 640 329 80,9
Coloured 2 578 930 8,8 2 716 038 8,8 5 294 968 8,8
Indian/Asian 790 412 2,7 754 810 2,5 1 545 222 2,6
White 2 257 654 7,7 2 404 805 7,8 4 662 459 7,8
Total 29 338 047 100,0 30 754 931 100,0 60 142 978 100,0

Source: (StatsSA, 2021). Mid-year population estimates (table 5), p.9. 

The majority of the population falls within the 25-59 year old age range (44%), followed by 0-14 year olds (29%), 15-24 year olds (18%) and 60 years and over (8%) (United Nations, 2017).

[1] The total population estimates have been updated for 2021 but the data presented in the remaining tables remain for 2018 as the overall proportions and trends have not changed.


StatsSA. (2021). Mid-year population estimates 2021. In Statistics South Africa: Release date 19 July 2021 (Issue Statistical release P0302). Available from:

United Nations. (2017). World Population Prospects The 2017 Revision Key Findings and Advance Tables. World Population Prospects The 2017, 1–46. Available from: