Total population

The size and growth of a country’s population provides important contextual information to help understand other social and economic outcomes.


Data refer to the resident population, which for most countries is defined as all nationals present in, or temporarily absent from the country, and aliens permanently settled in the country. It includes the following categories: national armed forces stationed abroad; merchant seamen at sea; diplomatic personnel located abroad; civilian aliens resident in the country; and displaced persons resident in the country. Excluded are the following categories: foreign armed forces stationed in the country; foreign diplomatic personnel located in the country; and civilian aliens temporarily in the country.

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

Data for total population may be compiled following two basic concepts: "Present-in-area population” or de facto, i.e. persons actually present in the country on the date of the census; or, “Resident population” or de jure, i.e. persons regularly domiciled in the country on the date of the census.


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. Some nations are capable of generating population statistics from administrative records or through a combination of data sources. The vast majority of countries, however, produce these data on population and housing by conducting a traditional census, which in principle entails canvassing the entire country, reaching every single household and collecting information on all individuals within a brief stipulated period.

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.


Within the OECD, in 2013, the United States accounted for 25% of the OECD total, followed by Japan (10%), Mexico (9%), Germany and Turkey (6%), France, Italy and the United Kingdom (5%), Korea and Spain (4%), Canada and Poland (3%). In the same year, the population of China was 10% higher than that of the whole OECD while the population of India was equal to that of the whole OECD.

In the three years to 2014 (or latest available period), population annual growth rates above 1% were recorded in Chile, Israel, Mexico and Turkey (high birth rate countries) and in Luxembourg, Australia, Canada, Norway, and Switzerland (high net immigration).

Over the same period, the highest population annual declines were observed in Portugal (due to a low birth rate and a negative net migration rate) and Hungary (for which birth and net migration rates are low). Growth rates were also negative in Estonia, Greece, Japan and Spain, while the population was stable in Poland.

Among emerging economies, in the three years to 2013, population annual growth rates were above 1% in South Africa, Brazil, India and Indonesia. By contrast, Russian population rose more slowly.


Further information

Analytical publications

Statistical publications

Methodological publications


Table. Population levels

Population growth rates
Annual growth in percentage