How Many Humans Have Ever Been Alive?

Oh humans. There's just so many of them, what with their colored-coded toothbrushes, double-chicken burgers, carbon-fiber automobiles lodged in traffic, and whole lots of resource-gobbling offspring. Humans do certainly excel at producing other, smaller humans who are relatively useless for the first several years of their lives. How good are humans at this? Well, there are almost 8 billion of them alive, as the fairly disheartening The World Counts continually updates. Worldwide, births continue to outnumber deaths to the tune of, let's say, "a lot" of painful labor every second. That's 200,000 new humans every day, which equals a whole lot of future, discontent college freshmen.

The world's population has gone absolutely nuts in the past couple of hundred years. As illustrates, there were somewhere within 813 million and 1.125 billion people alive in 1800. Five hundred years before that it was a bit less than half, at 360,000 million to 432 million. The 100 years from 1800 to 1900 saw the human population rise to about 1.55 to 1.76 billion. Fifty years later in 1950, it was 2.5 billion, per Worldometers. Forty years later in 1990 it was more than double that, at 5.3 billion. Then, it only took 25 years to jump by another two billion to 7.3 billion. This is why folks are worried about, you know, boiling to death in a carbon dioxide blanket.

All the while, the dead under our feet look on, wondering: are there really more of them than us? 

Many billions down, many more to go

The answer to the question, "Are there more living than dead?" is — no. Everyone who's lived has died, and the dead will always outnumber the living unless human lifespans grow substantially longer.

So how many humans have ever lived? As the Population Reference Bureau reports, the current population — staggering as it is — equals only about 7% of all of those who've ever lived. That means that the total amount of humans who've ever lived equals about 117 billion. So, less than the number of dollars owned by Jeff Bezos ($203 billion, per As). 

This figure derives from three factors: how long humans have been on Earth, the average population at various periods, and the number of births per 1,000 during each of those periods. For instance, each person alive requires about 1,024 ancestors if we go back 10 generations (two parents, four grandparents, eight great-grandparents, and so on), as Legacy Family Tree cites. There have also been lots of different human species on the earth, such as Homo neanderthalensis and Homo erectus, and it's believed that the earliest humans sprang forth around 7 million years ago. It really is true that all strangers are just unmet relatives.

And yes, the population continues to grow faster and faster. The UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs reports that the world population will reach 9.8 billion in about 20 years, and 11.2 billion in 2100. Better start searching for future beachfront property stat.