How Many People Have Lived on Earth since Mankind Began?

As you read this, there are approximately 7.7 billion other people on the planet with you. That might seem like a lot, but look at it this way and your perspective might change: the current world population is only about 7 percent of all the people who have ever lived. According to the Population Reference Bureau, which makes regular updates to its statistics, more than 108 billion people have roamed the Earth since behaviorally and anatomically modern humans first appeared approximately 50,000 years ago. The bureau acknowledges that much of its work is based on speculation, since there is no accurate data for 99 percent of the time mankind has existed, but figures can be approximated by looking at the length of time Homo sapiens have been around and the average size of the population at different times.

Looking into the future, the bureau predicts that by the year 2050, the world will have added about 5 billion people. If such numbers make you feel small, keep in mind that you are enjoying a much longer life than in previous generations. "Life expectancy at birth probably averaged only about 10 years for most of human history," the bureau reports. "For example, estimates of average life expectancy in Iron Age France (from 800 B.C. to about 100 A.D.) have been put at only 10 or 12 years."

A world of information:

  • The median age of the world's population is 30, meaning that about half of people are over 30 years old and half are under 30.
  • By 2050, there will be around 425 million people aged 80 or older, according to estimates; that figure is expected to more than double by the year 2100.
  • With every second that ticks by, approximately 4.2 people are born and 1.8 people die.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many people have lived on Earth since the beginning of mankind?

According to estimates by the Population Reference Bureau, approximately 108 billion people have lived on Earth since the appearance of anatomically modern humans around 50,000 years ago. This figure takes into account the various population sizes throughout different historical periods and the growth rate over time.

What period in history had the most significant population growth?

The most significant population growth occurred during the 20th century. The global population skyrocketed from about 1.6 billion in 1900 to over 6 billion by the year 2000. This unprecedented increase was due to advancements in medicine, agriculture, and sanitation, which drastically reduced mortality rates and increased life expectancy.

How do researchers estimate the number of people who have ever lived?

Researchers estimate the number of people who have ever lived by using demographic models that incorporate historical population estimates, birth rates, and death rates. They calculate the total number of births over a given period and adjust for the changing population dynamics throughout human history. These models are continually refined as new archaeological and historical data become available.

What does the current population say about the total number of people who have ever lived?

The current global population is over 7.9 billion, which means that the living make up a significant proportion of the total number of humans ever born. In fact, some estimates suggest that about 6.5% of all people ever born are alive today, highlighting the rapid population growth in recent centuries.

How has the understanding of human population history evolved with new scientific discoveries?

Scientific discoveries, such as those in genetics and archaeology, have greatly enhanced our understanding of human population history. For instance, the study of ancient DNA has provided insights into human migration patterns and population sizes. Archaeological findings have helped to refine estimates of when and where human populations expanded or contracted, leading to more accurate models of historical population dynamics.

More Info: Population Reference Bureau

Discussion Comments


You've left out something which may be more important than size of our population. It's survivability of that population.

One site says that for the last third of 2015 -- 4 1/2 months -- we are spending beyond what our world can provide. We are living above the carrying capacity of our planetary environment. This one is scary, and quite immediate.

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