Of All the People That Have Lived at Least 65 Years, How Many are Alive Now?

Believe it or not, half of all the people in history to have reached age 65 are alive right now. The human life span has increased since prehistoric times when it measured about 33 years in the Upper Paleolithic period to an estimated 67.2 years in 2010. This is an average, of course. The People's Republic of China, for example, has a higher life expectancy of 84.4 years.

The Facts of Life:

  • The oldest documented person lived to be 122 — a French woman named Jeanne Calment. She died in 1997.

  • Women live longer than men — 5 to 10 years longer. Of the living people older than 100 years, 85% are women.

  • The world reproductive rate is on the decline, currently at 2.6 babies per woman. The world's population sits at about 6.8 billion.

  • Even in such wealthy countries as Japan, Germany and France, there are fewer than two people working to support government financing for each retired person.

Frequently Asked Questions

What percentage of people who have lived to be 65 are alive today?

As of recent demographic studies, it's estimated that approximately 8.5% of the global population is aged 65 and over. However, determining the exact percentage of people who have lived to be 65 and are still alive today requires complex historical demographic data. According to the World Bank, the global population aged 65 and above was around 702 million in 2020. Given the continuous increase in life expectancy, a significant proportion of those who have ever lived to 65 could be alive now.

How has the number of people living past 65 changed over time?

Historically, the number of people living past 65 has increased dramatically due to advancements in healthcare, nutrition, and overall living conditions. According to the United Nations, the global population aged 65 and over is growing faster than all other age groups. In 1950, the percentage of people over 65 was about 5%, and by 2019, it had risen to 9%. This trend is expected to continue, with projections suggesting that by 2050, one in six people in the world will be over age 65.

What factors contribute to more people living to age 65 and beyond?

Several factors contribute to the increasing number of people living to age 65 and beyond. These include significant improvements in medical care, such as vaccinations and antibiotics, better access to healthcare services, improved nutrition, higher standards of living, and advancements in public health measures. Additionally, a decrease in infant mortality rates and a reduction in deaths from infectious diseases have also played a crucial role in increasing life expectancy.

Are there any regions where living past 65 is more common?

Yes, there are regional differences in the proportion of the population living past 65. Developed regions tend to have higher percentages of older adults due to better healthcare systems, higher incomes, and more advanced social support structures. For instance, Europe and North America have some of the highest proportions of people aged 65 and over. In contrast, many developing regions, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, have younger populations with fewer individuals reaching age 65.

What impact does the growing number of people aged 65 and over have on society?

The growing number of people aged 65 and over has significant implications for society, including increased demand for healthcare services, pensions, and social support systems. It can also lead to changes in the labor market, with potential shortages of workers and the need for policies to support older adults in the workforce. Additionally, there may be shifts in economic priorities, with more focus on sectors like healthcare and eldercare. Governments and societies must adapt to these demographic changes to ensure sustainable development.

More Info: Meacham's Posterous; Time; Census

Discussion Comments


The Bible is a book of fairy tales and myths mostly borrowed from other religions. There is absolutely no historical documentation for any of it because it is fiction.

Statisticians can easily estimate average life expectancy over time. I'll explain it to you clearly as long as you have at least a semester of calculus, a year of differential equations, and classes in normal and abnormal statistics. Do you have the requisite education for the mathematics?


"Documented historical" accounts in the bible? I need to do some research. The stories are a good read, but have never seen the documents to back them up. I need to go to the library, and ask my pastor.


Prove your statement. If you disavow documented, historical accounts in the Bible which list men who have lived for much longer than 122 years, then back up what you say regarding the length of life for those 65 years old with documented factual information, not "estimates" nor baseless statements taken from someone else who used "logical guesses" to come up with prehistoric (?) figures.

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