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Joe Biden is old. But how old compared to other leaders? | Opinion
Biden’s younger than the Pope and the Queen of England.
President-elect Joe Biden speaks to supporters on Nov. 4 in Wilmington, Del.
President-elect Joe Biden speaks to supporters on Nov. 4 in Wilmington, Del. [ PAUL SANCYA | AP ]
This article represents the opinion of the Tampa Bay Times Editorial Board.
Published Nov. 12, 2020

President-elect Joe Biden is 77 years old. He turns 78 in a few days. By now, you probably know that he will be the oldest U.S. president ever. He’ll surpass Ronald Reagan, who was 77 when he left office in 1989 after serving two terms. Biden, who is older than the oldest baby boomer, has joked about his, ahem, maturity. He’s also said that with age comes experience and wisdom, though he thinks it’s up to the American people to decide if that’s true in his case.

So he’s got some years on previous sitting presidents, but what about other world leaders? Let’s start with the men and women who run what are called the Group of Twenty countries, a collection of the world’s largest economies. The King of Saudi Arabia, Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, is 84. Much of the power, though, rests with his son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who at 35 is less than half Biden’s age. Among the elected G20 leaders, Biden would be the elder statesman.

Five oldest:

President Barack Obama talks with King Salman of Saudi Arabia in 2015.
President Barack Obama talks with King Salman of Saudi Arabia in 2015.
  1. Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, 84, Saudi Arabia
  2. Joe Biden, 77, United States
  3. Yoshihide Suga, 71, Japan
  4. Narendra Modi, 70, India
  5. Vladimir Putin, 68, Russia

Five youngest:

President Donald Trump meets with French President Emmanuel Macron in 2019.
President Donald Trump meets with French President Emmanuel Macron in 2019. [ EVAN VUCCI | AP ]
  1. Emmanuel Macron, 42, France
  2. Charles Michel, 44, European Union
  3. Justin Trudeau, 48, Canada
  4. Scott Morrison, 52, Australia
  5. Giuseppe Conte, 56, Italy

Outside the G20, several counties have kings, queens or largely ceremonial appointees who are older than Biden. Queen Elizabeth II is 94, for instance. Pope Francis is 83.

Biden isn’t the oldest among the world’s elected leaders. There are several in their 80s or older, including 87-year-old Paul Biya, the president of Cameroon since 1982.

Interestingly, Biden is also older than four of the five living U.S. presidents.

Former President Jimmy Carter in 2019.
Former President Jimmy Carter in 2019. [ JOHN AMIS | AP ]
  1. Jimmy Carter — 96
  2. Joe Biden — 77
  3. Donald Trump — 74
  4. George W. Bush — 74
  5. Bill Clinton — 74
  6. Barack Obama — 59
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For many of his detractors, Biden was too old to effectively run for president and definitely too old to win. He proved them wrong. Time will tell whether Biden’s advancing years adversely affect his ability to lead. But he’s younger than both Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, 80, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, 78, neither of whom seem ready to slow down.

Japan's Kane Tanaka, the world's oldest living person.
Japan's Kane Tanaka, the world's oldest living person. [ Associated Press ]

And he’s a full 40 years younger than Kane Tanaka. You know, the Japanese woman who is the oldest person alive.

Editorials are the institutional voice of the Tampa Bay Times. The members of the Editorial Board are Times Chairman and CEO Paul Tash, Editor of Editorials Graham Brink, and editorial writers Elizabeth Djinis, John Hill and Jim Verhulst. Follow @TBTimes_Opinion on Twitter for more opinion news