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Q: More dead people or alive people? ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   4 Comments )
Subject: More dead people or alive people?
Category: Reference, Education and News
Asked by: bolat1605-ga
List Price: $5.00
Posted: 04 Mar 2006 20:03 PST
Expires: 03 Apr 2006 21:03 PDT
Question ID: 703709
Are there more dead people in the world or more alive people in the
world? Please provide reasons and references.
Subject: Re: More dead people or alive people?
Answered By: richard-ga on 04 Mar 2006 20:44 PST
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hello and thank you for your question.

Clearly the number of people alive today, around 6 or 7 billion, is
much smaller than the number of people who've gone before them.

The calculations shown below give the human race about 50,000 years of
existence, and a total count of about 100 billion.  Certainly the
figures for the first 48,000 or so years are sketchy at best.  But
even if you start the count at year 1 A.D., it's reasonable to
estimate that about 50 billion people have lived and died just since
then, nearly 10 times the number now alive.

Here's one source:
"Any estimate of the total number of people who have ever been born
will depend basically on two factors: (1) the length of time humans
are thought to have been on Earth and (2) the average size of the
human population at different periods.
"Fixing a time when the human race actually came into existence is not
a straightforward matter. Various ancestors of Homo sapiens seem to
have appeared at least as early as 700,000 B.C. Hominids walked the
Earth as early as several million years ago. According to the United
Nations' Determinants and Consequences of Population Trends, modern
Homo sapiens may have appeared about 50,000 B.C. This long period of
50,000 years holds the key to the question of how many people have
ever been born.

Year	      Population	Births per 1,000	Births Between Marks
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
2002	    6,215,000,000	       23	   983,987,500

Number who have ever been born	               106,456,367,669
World population in mid-2002	                 6,215,000,000
Percent of those ever born who are living in 2002	     5

Here's another source that uses the same approach and reaches about
the same conclusion:

and another, the same approach but a bit more technical:

Search term used:
population "ever lived

Thanks again for letting us help.

Google Answers Researcher
bolat1605-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars
Excellent answer thanks. All the references make the diffreence. Very prompt.

Subject: Re: More dead people or alive people?
From: probonopublico-ga on 04 Mar 2006 21:51 PST
Wow, Scary!

I never realised that the population had exploded so fast.

It proves Malthus wrong!

Or does it?
Subject: Re: More dead people or alive people?
From: corwin_02-ga on 05 Mar 2006 05:17 PST
actually the number is closer to 20 to 1
Subject: Re: More dead people or alive people?
From: canadianhelper-ga on 05 Mar 2006 05:53 PST
Whether it is 10 or 20 to 1 is up for debate (as mentioned by the GR
the first 96% of the estimates she used would be guess work)...well
done answer I say.
Subject: Re: More dead people or alive people?
From: markvmd-ga on 05 Mar 2006 08:13 PST
In the foreword to 2001: A Space Odyssey, Arthur C. Clarke and Stanley
Kubrick wrote, "Behind every human being now living stand thirty
ghosts." This number may seem high but I would expect Clarke to use a
more inclusive definition of human being in his analysis, plus it was
written ~1970.

It is a beautiful way of expressing the information, innit?

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