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Census 2000 Brief: The United States in International Context: 2000

Written by:
Report Number C2KBR/01-11

The United States is the third most populous country on Earth. Even so, it comprises less than 5 percent of the world’s population and accounts for an even smaller fraction of global population increase.

During the decade of the 1990s, the population of the United States grew by some 13 percent. This change is five times the average percentage increase of other industrialized countries during the same period.

Though it has only about one-fourth the total population of India, the United States has more people ages 80 and over. At the same time, the United States has more than twice the total population of Nigeria but fewer children under the age of 5.

Census 2000 improves our understanding of the ways in which the U.S. population is evolving as we enter the new millennium. It also underscores the commonalities, and a number of important differences, between the United States and other national populations. Recognizing the differences between U.S. population size, growth, and structure and those of other world regions and countries strengthens our understanding of America’s place in today’s world and the relative opportunities, constraints, and challenges we will face in coming years.

This brief, part of a series that analyzes population and housing data collected from Census 2000, compares the U.S. population in 2000 with those of other countries and major world regions, focusing on population size, growth, and age-sex composition. It provides some explanation for major differences in population size and structure among countries. It also underscores differences in national population growth between the United States, other more developed countries (MDCs), and the world’s less developed countries (LDCs),1 and links these to the same population dynamics underlying age composition differences.

1 More developed countries include all of North America and Europe, as well as Japan, Australia, and New Zealand. The remaining countries of the world are considered less developed countries.

Page Last Revised - October 8, 2021
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