For anthropologists, probably the most meaningful organization and
population reference is the "Population Reference Bureau" and its
magazine "Population Today."
Sadly, the magazine "Population Today" is no longer published and it
is sorely missed by many of us who work in various fields of
anthropology and archaeology. The last issue was November/December
2002. However, the funds saved through ending the publication have
been put to even better use through increased online coverage of the
You may find out a little more about the organization and the magazine here:
What would probably be the most definitive answer to your question is
also the most requested article from "Population Today," February
Due to copyright restraints, it would not be permitted to quote the
entire article here. So, rather than try and paraphrase, which often
changes the meaning from the original intent regardless of how careful
we may be, I will simply send you to the article.
What you are about to read should be considered an integral part of
this answer provided in a way that is acceptable to GA editors and to
the copyright holder.
"How Many People Have Ever Lived on Earth"
The information provided is as accurate as it can be given what we
know (and don't know).
As the article states: "Any such exercise can be only a highly
speculative enterprise, to be undertaken with far less seriousness
than most demographic inquiries. Nonetheless, it is a somewhat
intriguing idea that can be approached on at least a semi-scientific
The figures used in the chart which accompanies the article are based
on an estimate of ranges provided by the United Nations. While
hominids walked the Earth for a few million years, these United
Nations figures are based on the rise of Homo Sapiens about 50,000
The Population Reference Bureau also uses the arrival of Homo Sapiens
as its official beginning point for human demographics as do most
anthropologists and archaeologists.
Based on this time frame and definition of the "human Race" -
106,456,367,669 people have been born and approximately 5.8 percent of
all people ever born are alive today. That's really a rather large
percentage if you stop to think about it.
Search - Google
Terms - number of people who ever lived, and as an archaeologist, a
familiarity with The Population Reference Bureau and their magazine.
Just as a side note, you may read through online versions of the last
few years of the magazine online at their website. If you have an
interest in population trends, you should find it fascinating.
If I may clarify anything, please ask.
We are not ready for Soliyent Green quite yet.
Clarification of Answer by
14 Dec 2003 12:34 PST
Between 1995 and mid 2002, the latest for which complete figures are
available, 983,987,500 were born.
Approx - 8,199,858 dozens according to my computer calculator.
If that's wrong, then I have to line up a whole bunch of people with
full compliments of fingers and toes and do it the hard way.
Many working archaeologists are terrible at math. That's why we keep
grad-students around :)