There is a quote I have often seen: There are more people alive today than ever lived.

It's an interesting thought. It's also wrong. Ludicrously wrong. For a demonstration of why it is wrong, use the sliders below to run a population simulation!

Test this theory yourself:

Age of Humankind 10000 (The advent of agriculture)
Generation Length (years) 20
Number of Generations Living Concurrently 3
Rate of Growth 1.2

The Verdict:

The Dead:

The Living:


Generation Year Population
Generation Year Population


Nevertheless, the simulation stands as a powerful refutation of the idea that the living outnumber the dead. You can generate a simulation that produces more people living today than have ever died, but the resulting living population dwarfs anything the Earth could reasonably sustain.

I wrote about this in more depth on my blog, Accidental Developer.