2018 World Population Data



Old-Age Labor Force Participation Decreases for Men in Developing Regions

A country's age structure and its socioeconomic and political contexts can influence the labor force participation rate (LFPR) of older adults. At the same time, old-age LFPR can impact countries’ policies and social support structures. Rates vary considerably by country. Overall, they tend to be higher in countries in the high and moderate child dependency categories. However, many countries in these categories, including the Philippines, show an emerging pattern of decline in older men’s LFPR. In contrast, older adults’ LFPR is generally rising in high old-age dependency category countries. This rise is driven in part by longer life expectancies and policies that provide incentives to keep older adults in the formal labor market. Older women’s LFPR is increasing in many countries around the world, spurred by social security reforms and changing cultural norms.

Brazil, an emerging economy with moderate child dependency, is part of a group of developing countries that in recent decades have seen a decline in LFPR among those 65+. Brazil’s LFPR was estimated at just over 30 percent among older men in 2014, a decline of 4 percentage points from 10 years earlier. LFPR also decreased slightly among older women, going against the global trend. This decline occurred alongside increased access to pension programs―Brazil’s average retirement age stands at 56 years for men and 53 years for women. Policymakers concerned about the current system’s sustainability are now proposing alternative policies that aim to increase the average retirement age and reduce social security benefits.

Japan, with one of the world’s oldest populations, has already taken steps to keep older adults in the workforce. Over the past three decades, it has implemented policies that reduce the amount that older adults receive in their public pension benefits and that increase the eligibility age for those benefits. However, Japan’s old-age LFPR―which is higher than in most other more-developed countries―has only begun to rise over the past ten years or so. This growth in old-age LFPR reflects numerous demographic and socioeconomic trends in the country, including increases in life expectancy, more flexible employment opportunities, greater female participation in the labor force, and changes in social security benefits.

Older adults’ labor force participation tends to be higher in countries in the high and moderate child dependency categories, but older men’s labor force participation has decreased in many of these countries.


Data updated on August 15, 2017.



The Data Sheet lists all geopolitical entities with populations of 150,000 or more and all members of the UN, including sovereign states, dependencies, overseas departments, and some territories whose status or boundaries may be undetermined or in dispute. More developed regions, following the UN classification, comprise all of Europe and North America, plus Australia, Japan, and New Zealand. All other regions and countries are classified as less developed. The least developed countries consist of 47 countries with especially low incomes, high economic vulnerability, and poor human development indicators. The criteria and list of countries, as defined by the UN, can be found at http://unohrlls.org/about-ldcs/.

World and Regional Totals: Regional population totals are independently rounded and include small countries or areas not shown. Regional and world rates and percentages are weighted averages of countries for which data are available. Regional averages are shown when data or estimates are available for at least three-quarters of the region’s population.

World Population Data Sheets from different years should not be used as a time series. Fluctuations in values from year to year often reflect revisions based on new data or estimates rather than actual changes in levels.

Country-specific notes include:

  • SAR stands for Special Administrative Region.
  • Kosovo declared independence from Serbia on Feb. 17, 2008. Serbia has not recognized Kosovo’s independence.
  • Macedonia is part of the former Yugoslav Republic.
  • (—) Indicates data unavailable or inapplicable.

    A date range indicates the most recent data point during that time period.


    The rates and figures are primarily compiled from the following sources: national statistical offices’ official websites, online databases, statistical yearbooks, and bulletins from various countries; demographic surveys such as the Demographic and Health Surveys, Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys, and Performance and Monitoring Accountability (PMA) 2020 Surveys; the UN Demographic Yearbook 2015 and Population and Vital Statistics Report of the UN Statistics Division; World Population Prospects: The 2017 Revision, World Contraceptive Use 2016, and World Urbanization Prospects: The 2014 Revision of the UN Population Division; the International Data Base of the International Programs Center, U.S. Census Bureau; World Development Indicators online database of the World Bank; AIDSinfo online database of the UNAIDS; FAOSTAT online database of the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations; and UIS.Stat online database of the UNESCO Institute for Statistics. The sources also include direct communication with demographers and country experts from around the world. Specific data sources may be obtained by contacting the authors of the 2017 World Population Data Sheet. For countries with complete registration of births and deaths, rates are those most recently reported. For more developed countries, nearly all vital rates refer to 2016 or 2015.


    This publication is funded by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the U.S. Agency for International Development (PACE Project, No. AID-0AA-A-16-00002), and supporters. The contents are the responsibility of the Population Reference Bureau and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States government.


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