Every once in a while you just have to sit back and be amazed by something, or someone. 

In this case, the ‘someone’ is Hans Rosling and the ‘something’ is

The pensions industry spends a lot of time explaining why the cost of defined benefit (DB) pensions is rising. A few of these factors are:

– There are far more of us alive today than at any point in time
– We’re also living longer than ever before
– But we're having fewer children (so fewer workers to financially support an ageing population)

Thanks to Hans and his team, we can now sit back and watch exactly what all the fuss is about.

(Source:  Free material from 

Click here to watch this graph in motion.  Of particular note for the UK:

– Total fertility has fallen to 1/3rd of 1800 levels, whilst life expectancy has almost doubled
– Acceleration in life expectancy during late 1800s following the industrial boom
– Drop in life expectancy during WW1 followed by sharp rise in life expectancy and births
– Rise in total fertility rate during and after WW2 (the ‘Baby Boomers’ who are retiring soon)
– Fertility rate below 2 per woman from early 1970s onwards

We also have to thank the Gapminder team for making this tool available open-source – we’re welcome to create graphs online or by downloading a desktop version (see their FAQs).  They were much deserved winners of the Grierson 2011 Award for Documentaries earlier this month.

Here are some other interesting visualisations:

UK – Life expectancy over time  
UK – Life expectancy against percentage of population aged 60+
UK – Percentage of population aged 20-39 to those aged 60+

Links to Hans Rosling's "The Joy of Stats":

5 minute teaser ( or the 60 minute pleaser (


[Please note that all opinions expressed in this blog are the author’s own and do not constitute investment advice.  Click here for full disclaimer]