OECD Factbook 2011-2012: Economic, Environmental and Social Statistics
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branch Population and migration
branch Population
    branch Total population

The size and growth of a country's population are both causes and effects of economic and social developments. The pace of population growth has slowed in all OECD countries.


Data refer to the resident population. For countries with overseas colonies, protectorates or other territorial possessions, their populations are generally excluded. Growth rates are the annual changes in the population resulting from births, deaths and net migration during the year.

The total fertility rate is the total number of children that would be born to each woman if she were to live to the end of her child-bearing years and give birth to children in agreement with the prevailing age-specific fertility rates.


For most OECD countries, population data are based on regular, ten-yearly censuses, with estimates for intercensal years derived from administrative data. In several European countries, population estimates are based entirely on administrative records. Population data are fairly comparable.

For some countries the population figures shown here differ from those used for calculating GDP and other economic statistics on a per capita basis, although differences are normally small.

Population projections are taken from national sources where these are available, but for some countries they are based on UN or Eurostat projections; the projection for the world comes from UN. All population projections require assumptions about future trends in life expectancy, fertility rates and migration. Often, a range of projections is produced using different assumptions about these future trends. The estimates shown here correspond to the median or central variant.


In 2010, OECD countries accounted for 18% of the world's population of 6.9 billion. China accounted for 19% and India for 18%. Within the OECD, in 2009, the United States accounted for 25% of the OECD total, followed by Japan (10%), Mexico (9%), Germany (7%) and Turkey (6%).

In the three years to 2010, growth rates above the OECD population average (0.6% per year) were recorded in Israel, Mexico and Turkey (high birth rate countries) and in Australia, Canada, Chile, Korea, Luxembourg, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United States (high net immigration). New Zealand and Ireland also recorded population growth rates above the OECD total which can be attributed to both a birth rate equal to the replacement rate and a positive net migration rate. In Japan, Hungary and Germany, populations declined mostly due to low birth rates. Growth rates were very low, although still positive, in Estonia, Poland, Portugal, the Slovak Republic, and Slovenia. The population of OECD countries is expected to grow by less than 0.2 per cent per year until 2050.

Total fertility rates in OECD countries have declined dramatically over the past few decades, falling on average from 2.7 in 1970 to 1.6 children per woman of childbearing age in the 2000s. In all OECD countries, fertility rates declined for young women and increased at older ages. A modest recovery in total fertility rates started in 2002, to an average level of 1.7 in  2009. In 2009, the total fertility rate was below its replacement level of 2.1 in all OECD countries except Iceland, Ireland, Israel, New Zealand, and Turkey.



Further information
Analytical publications
Statistical publications
Methodological publications
  • d'Addio, A.C. and M.M. d'Ercole (2005), “Trends and Determinants of Fertility Rates: The Role of Policies”, OECD Social Employment and Migration Working Papers, No. 27.
  • OECD (2011), Labour Force Statistics, OECD Publishing.
Online databases
Indicator in PDF Acrobat PDF page

Population levels
    Table in Excel
Population growth rates
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Total fertility rates
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World population Figure in Excel
World population
OECD population Figure in Excel
OECD population
Population growth rates Figure in Excel
Population growth rates
Total fertility rates Figure in Excel
Total fertility rates

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