Population and Infant Mortality Between Wealthy and Poor Countries

The analysis of human population in demographic economics is used to understand how a population relates to economic stability and the quality of life of a country. Countries have a varied mix of the number of children, working citizens, and retired citizens in their population.

The ratio of children, working citizens, and retired citizens is influential to the growth of a country.  Japan has the largest retired population in the world (about 26% are 65 and older). Japan also has the second smallest child population (about 13% are ages 0-14). These children will eventually have to contribute to economic growth and support retired and soon to be retiring citizens. This is a huge burden if the population of future working citizens is very small. Mozambique has the largest percentage of children in their population (about 50% are ages 0-14). Roughly 3% of the population are 65 and older. That means 50% of their Mozambique’s population is not working. The working citizens have a huge burden supporting the child population. Both of these are examples how population is important to economic growth and sustainability.

Hans Rosling, a Swedish physician and statistician known for his TED talks on global health, states “it seems you can move much faster if you’re healthy first than if you’re wealthy first.” He believes that there is a link between infant mortality rates and economic growth. Using data from the World Bank, let’s compare countries with the highest average income to those with the lowest.


This is a comparison of an individual’s average yearly income in US dollars for each country. GDP per capita is often used to measure the quality of life in a given country.


The countries with the lowest quality of life have more children in their population than the top performing countries. The countries with the highest GDP per capita tend to have more citizens that reach the age of retirement. The key takeaways are:

  • All of the countries with low quality of life have a higher percentage of their population (ranging from 39% to 50%) consisting of children.
  • The countries with the highest quality of life have a majority of their population as working citizens.


There is a huge difference between the child survival rates of countries in poverty and within developed countries. The key takeaways are:

  • Countries with the lowest GDP per capita tend to have high infant mortality rates.
  • Countries with the highest GDP per capita tend to have low infant mortality rates.

The countries with the lowest quality of life have more children in their population and also a higher infant mortality rate. Countries with the highest quality of life have working citizens making up the majority of the population with a lower infant mortality rate.

There are stark differences between developed and struggling countries but life expectancy is improving globally. According to the World Health Organization, “life expectancy has been improving at a rate of more than 2 years per decade since 1950, with the exception of the 1990s.” Life expectancy is used by the WHO as an overall measure of how well the healthcare system of a country helps foster long and healthy lives. The WHO also states that the world as a whole is closing the life expectancy gap  achieved by the best performing countries in the past century. The difference between life expectancy of African and European countries has decreased to 4.9 years since 2000.






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