Before and after photos show how 15 world leaders have aged in office

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is flanked by U.S. President Donald Trump and China's President Xi Jinping

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Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is flanked by U.S. President Donald Trump and China’s President Xi Jinping
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Kevin Lamarque / Reuters

  • Being a world leader comes with a lot of responsibility. It also involves grueling days, difficult decisions, and a consistent amount of high pressure.
  • The intensity of these roles can age leaders during their time in office, and because of the scrutiny of modern-day media, there are photos to show these changes.
  • These before and after photos show how 15 world leaders, from Angela Merkel and Vladimir Putin to Queen Elizabeth, have aged in office.
  • Visit BusinessInsider.com for more stories.

Being a president, prime minister, or supreme leader is by no means a guaranteed way to stay youthful.

Election cycles, political compromises, long days, and difficult decisions are just a few of the things world leaders have to deal with on a daily basis.

In 2015, the British Medical Journal published a study comparing elected leaders and runner-ups in 17 countries between 1722 to 2015 to see how hard being a world leader is on the body.

The study concluded that becoming a head of government “substantially” increased the risk of mortality. Candidates who served as a head of government lived about 4 years less after their last election than those who never served.

Here are 30 photos showing how world leaders have aged since they were first elected.


Queen Elizabeth II wasn’t elected, but she’s the longest-serving living monarch in the world. Here she is at age 30 in 1957, five years after becoming queen.


At 93, after a lifetime in the public eye, she’s still smiling.


Equatorial Guinea’s president Teodoro Obiang Nguema has been in power since a military coup in 1979. He is the world’s longest currently serving world leader.

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President Teodoro Obiang Nguema in 1982.
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Paco Junqera / Cover / Getty

Source: Nation


Here he is in 2018 after 39 years as president.

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President Teodoro Obiang Nguema in 2018.
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Nacer Talel / Anadolu Agency / Getty

In 1981, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei became Iran’s president at age 42. He served in that role until 1989, when he became Iran’s supreme leader, which he still is today.

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Iranian president Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in 1981.
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Patrick Durand / Sygma / Getty

Source: CNN


Here he is in 2019. In July he’ll celebrate his 80th birthday.

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Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
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Caren Firouz/Reuters

Here’s President Donald Trump on the day of his inauguration in January 2017. He was 70 when he took office, the oldest in US history.

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President Donald Trump on Inauguration Day.
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Getty Images

At age 73 in 2019, here at a news conference in South Korea, he doesn’t look too different.

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President Donald Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in (unseen) attend a joint news conference at the presidential Blue House on June 30, 2019 in Seoul, South Korea.
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Reuters

British Prime Minister Theresa May came to power in 2016 during a chaotic political time while Britain decided whether or not to remain part of the European Union.

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Theresa May two months before becoming Prime Minister in 2016.
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Peter Macdiarmid / AFP / Getty

After a stressful three years, and no concrete outcome, May resigned as Prime Minister in 2019.

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Theresa May in 2019
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Tolga Akmen / AFP / Getty

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau became leader in 2015, after a surprise victory ousting a government that had been in power for the previous 9 years. He was 43.

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Canadian Minister Justin Trudeau in 2015.
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Patrick Aventurier / Getty

Source: Washington Post


In 2019, with another election approaching, the biggest change looks to be the length of his hair.

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Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens during a meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump in the Oval Office of the White House June 20, 2019 in Washington,
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Alex Wong / Getty

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi was elected in a historic landslide victory in 2014. He was 63.

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India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014.
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Amit Dave / Reuters

Source: The Guardian


In 2019, after winning another term, he’s looking pretty similar. The beard’s a little trimmer.

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India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
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Adnan Abidi/Reuters

Xi Jinping became China’s president in 2013, after being elected general secretary of the Communist Party in 2012. He was 59.

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Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013.
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Sergei Karpukhin / Reuters

Other than some grey hairs, China’s most powerful leader since Mao Zedong doesn’t look too different.

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China’s President Xi Jinping.
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Reuters

Source: BBC News


Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro assumed power at age 50 in 2013 after the death of former President Hugo Chavez.

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Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro in 2013.
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Jorge Silva / Reuters

Source: AP


In 2019 he’s looking a little weathered, which makes sense considering the country’s weak economy and a continuing struggle over who the legitimate Venezuelan president should be.

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President of Venezuela Nicolás Maduro in 2019.
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Eva Marie Uzcategui / Getty

Source: Vox


North Korean supreme leader Kim Jong Un came to power as one of the youngest world leaders in 2011 after his father, Kim Jong-Il, died. At age 30, he inherited a nuclear arsenal and a bevy of human rights abuses.

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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in 2012.
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Kyodo News / Getty

Source: Business Insider


Here he is meeting with Trump in the Demilitarized Zone between the two Koreas in June 2019. A trip to Beijing in 2018 was his first known time outside of North Korea since becoming leader.

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US President Donald Trump and North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un talk before a meeting in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) on June 30, 2019, in Panmunjom, Korea.
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BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images

Source: Business Insider


German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the country’s first elected female leader, came to power in 2006 at age 51.

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel in 2006.
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Lars Baron / Getty

Source: BBC News


Here she is in 2019 after 13 years as Germany’s leader. She’s said her current term, her fourth, will be her last.

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
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REUTERS/Eva Plevier

Source: NPR


Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was elected in 2006, but stepped down after a year in office, citing health issues.

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Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in 2006.
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The Asahi Shimbun / Getty

Source: BBC News


He was re-elected as prime minister in 2012, and in 2019 he’s on track to become Japan’s longest-serving Prime Minister. Abe is now 64.

Source: The Guardian


Recep Tayyip Erdogan was elected as the president of Turkey in 2014, after also serving as prime minister for 11 years. This is him in 2002.

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Then Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in 2002.
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Fatih Saribas / Reuters

Source: BBC News


At age 65 in 2019, Erdogan is looking older after a particularly stressful year when his party twice lost the mayoral race for Istanbul. He’s previously said that when the city was lost, the country would be, too.

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Turkish President Erdogan.
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Reuters

Source: Al-Monitor


Russian leader Vladimir Putin became prime minister in 1999 after working as a spy and security chief. In 2000 he went on to become president when Boris Yeltsin resigned. He was 47.

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Russian leader Vladimir Putin in 1999.
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Antoine Gyori / Corbis / Getty

Sources: CNN, The New York Times


Now 66, here’s Putin nearly two decades after he came to power.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin in June 2019.
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Mikhail Svetlov / Getty

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was elected in 1996 and again in 2009 after a 10-year gap.

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in 1996.
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Larry Downing / Sygma / Getty

Here he is at age 69 in 2019. In April, it looked like he had won a fifth term as prime minister, but after failing to produce a coalition government, Israel will decide who its leader will be in September.

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in 2019.
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Menahem Kahana / AFP / Getty

Sources: CNN, AP