Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Do the Dead outnumber the Living?

It is often said that there are more people living now that all the people who have died in the past. But is it true? Such statistical predictions are always difficult and the results are often counter-intuitive. I know because many years ago I wrote a piece for the Genealogists' Magazine about how many English ancestors you had in 1066. The answer was surprising. It turned out that if you go back that far, and allow for population minimums such as the Black Death, the number of distant cousin marriages (say 10th cousins and more) are so numerous that you (and me) turn out to be descended from EVERYONE who was alive in 1066 who has living descendants! 

So back to the the title question. If you want to know the answer have a look at the BBC Magazine article Do the Dead outnumber the Living? and be prepared to be surprised.

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