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The UN definition of an adult is an individual over the age of 15. In 1900, adults were 1.1 billion out of 1.6 billion total people (so there were more over-15s than under-15s). Today there are 7.5 billion total people, of whom 5.5 billion are adults (leaving 2 billion children). By 2050, there will likely be 7.6 billion adults in the midst of 9.7 billion people, or roughly the same ratio.

Some places have higher birth rates and therefore younger (on average) populations. In others - and particularly in some unevangelized regions - declining birth rates means the population is 'aging'.

In the table below, we look at the situation in a slightly different fashion: the total population under the age of 15, versus the total population over 65; or, children vs. seniors. The final column shows the ratio between these two populations, presented as children divided by seniors. In low-income countries, for example, children under the age of 15 outnumber seniors six times over.

This kind of ratio suggests how ministry resources might be strategically allocated. In low-income countries, obviously more resources should be devoted to ministry to children than to ministry to seniors, in the sense that there are more children to minister to. But in many countries, the division is nearly equal. People are living longer, and having fewer children. We must become just as good at ministering to the elderly (especially in places where the ratio is under 1.0) as we are at ministering to children. Unfortunately, anecdotally it appears to me there are far more short-term trips to minister to children than to senior citizens.

Region Under-15s Over-65s 15:65 ratio
WORLD 2,072,893 1,461,440 1.42
Low-income countries 448,177 69,116 6.48
Lower-middle-income countries 962,492 450,011 2.14
Upper-middle-income countries 423,109 569,227 0.74
High-income countries 238,366 372,305 0.64
Middle-income countries  1,385,601  1,019,238 1.36
More developed regions 201,538 325,024 0.62
Less developed regions 1,871,354 1,136,416 1.65
Less developed regions, excluding least developed countries 1,292,707 1,021,962 1.26
Least developed countries 578,647 114 454 5.06
Less developed regions, excluding China  1,686,034 775,122 2.18
AFRICA 797,574 133,313 5.98
Eastern Africa 283,247 43,330 6.54
Middle Africa 129,821 14 279 9.09
Northern Africa 86,468 38,690 2.23
Southern Africa 17,197 6,921 2.48
Western Africa 280,842 30,093 9.33
Sub-Saharan Africa 711,106 94 623 7.52
ASIA 948,460 895,110 1.06
Eastern Asia 209,916 421,153 0.50
South-Eastern Asia 154 429 115,387 1.34
South-Central Asia 495,914 309,689 1.60
Western Asia 88,201 48,881 1.80
Central Asia 19,653 9,549 2.06
Southern Asia 476,261 300,140 1.59
EUROPE 107,011 185,601 0.58
Eastern Europe 40,430 56,814 0.71
Northern Europe 19,527 27,693 0.71
Southern Europe 18,331 46,714 0.39
Western Europe 28,723 54 380 0.53
LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN 134 030 144 306 0.93
Caribbean 8,667 8,883 0.98
Central America 40,869 37,881 1.08
NORTHERN AMERICA 74 491 93,338 0.80
OCEANIA 11,326 9,773 1.16
Australia/New Zealand 6,683 8,450 0.79
Melanesia 4 309 1,104 3.90
South America 84 494 97,542 0.87
Micronesia  152  96 1.59
Polynesia  182  123 1.48