30 March 2012

How Many People Have There Been?

Whatever you think the answer is to the question posed in the title, I'd guess that that your estimate is way off. Mine sure was as I was seduced by a promiscuous factoid.  Enjoy!

How Many People Have Ever Lived On Earth? 108 Billion
Year Population Births per 1,000 Births Between Benchmarks
50,000 B.C. 2 - -
8000 B.C. 5,000,000 80 1,137,789,769
1 A.D. 300,000,000 80 46,025,332,354
1200 450,000,000 60 26,591,343,000
1650 500,000,000 60 12,782,002,453
1750 795,000,000 50 3,171,931,513
1850 1,265,000,000 40 4,046,240,009
1900 1,656,000,000 40 2,900,237,856
1950 2,516,000,000 31-38 3,390,198,215
1995 5,760,000,000 31 5,427,305,000
2011 6,215,000,000 23 2,130,327,622

World population in mid-2011 6,987,000,000
Percent of those ever born who are living in 2011 6.5
Source: Population Reference Bureau estimates.


  1. 70,000 years ago? Interesting because based on MtDNA, we traced as far as 150,000-250,000 years ago (Archaeologists predicted 5-8 millions years old). Higher primates (including our "ancestors") have 48 chromosomes while homo sapiens have 46. Take a closer look and you will see that in homo sapiens, 2nd and 3rd fused from higher primates to what is 2nd in homo sapien. Also look at X and Y chromosomes... Female chromosome is very similar to ape's but not male chromosome meaning it has to come from entirely different species. ( K.D. Smith’s 1987 study titled “Repeated DNA sequences of the human Y chromosome.” It says “Most human Y chromosome sequences thus far examined do not have homologues [same relative position or structure] on the Y chromosomes of other primates.” Human female X chromosomes do look somewhat apelike, but not the male’s Y.)

    I see that they dated the dawn of agriculture 8,000 BC... Not sure if it's right because of what I read about other civilization like Göbekli Tepe that was dated 10,000-12,000 B.C. http://www.robertschoch.com/turkey.html Let's not forget about the ones in South America which is very fascinating. Supposedly 15,000 years old! http://hiddenincatours.com/titicaca-and-tiwanaku/ Another interesting thing is those elongated skulls which appears to be natural found there. They are trying to run DNA test on them but they are having trouble trying to extract old DNA which apparently not easy to do. Hopefully, one day we will be able to do DNA tests on old bones from different species to see how they compare to homo sapiens.

  2. Maybe not so far off.

    I remember Philip José Farmer's Riverwold series c. 1970's, whose premise was that an alien race had resurrected the entirety of humanity on a terraformed planed, as stating the total number humans who had ever been born was 36 billion. I also recall a more recent estimate, but can't place a source, of 70 billion. I also recall a pop song from my youth that had a refrain [regarding the number of people dying every day] "Twenty thousand men and women every day..." there for guess high. So, does a guestimate of +-100 billion for a second and a half of thought get a prize?


  3. Given his very recent estimate for the beginning of humanity (anatomically modern humans date to before 100,000 B.P) and very low estimate of populations prior to agriculture, his case is substantially under-stated.

  4. The authors admit that their analysis is speculative. It could be off by a large factor.

    Secondly, when I think of comparing "people alive" today with totals, I think of something rather different than births. Sure, technically an infant who dies within 24 hours of being born was a "person alive", but my internal view of "people alive" is of those who make it to adulthood (say 13 years of age). That would divide the total by at least a factor of two.

    So the percent of those adults ever alive might be well over 20%, which is still pretty remarkable.

  5. Another thing about human history. Mainstream archaeology claims that people 8,000 years ago were primitive but when you go to Dr. Robert Schoch's website about Sphnix's age that he estimate to be 7,000-11,000 years old! http://www.robertschoch.com/sphinxcontent.html

    Also, take a closer look at granite object and statues (Ramses) nearby... How did they create them with such precise considering that granite stone is very hard stone that would require diamond saw and specialized machining tools these days! http://www.gizapower.com/LoTeAnArticle.htm Chris Dunn's books are written from engineer's point of view (he's an engineer with a lot of work with machines). Fascinating stuff! He was blown by how the ancient people were able to create things with such perfection that we'd have to use machines to do the same job.

    Plato talked about Atlantis civilization about 10,000 years (he got the story from another person in Egypt). Isn't that when sea level is 300 feet lower at that time? I suppose that it could explain the story behind Noah's flooding.

    Makes you wonder what really occurred at that time.

  6. "Behind every man now alive stand thirty ghosts, for that is the ratio by which the dead outnumber the living. Since the dawn of time, roughly a hundred billion human beings have walked the planet Earth."
    2001: a Space Odyssey, A.C. Clarke, 1968

    Obviously, the ratio's come down since then!

  7. .

    "How did they create them with such precise considering that granite stone is very hard stone that would require diamond saw and specialized machining tools these days!"

    Simple, plentiful manual labor and lots of time. The Egyptians had millenia to figure out how to do it and no distractions from blogs, X-box, MTV and the like.


  8. Add to #7's response to #5

    No unions to artificially reduce the productivity of manual labor.

  9. Of course the answer depends entirely on how we define 'human'. What is the cutoff?