Documentation – current version: 5
Summary documentation of v5
Our population data is divided into two chunks. One long historic trend for the total global population that goes back all the way to 10,000 BC. And the second chunk is country estimates that only reaches back to 1800.
Chunk 1: Global population trend since 10,000 BC
Thousands of years ago, nobody was counting the number of people on the planet. So the estimates are uncertain, but quite similar in the long perspective. In this excel file you can see the different numbers alternative sources we have used, which resulted in this curve:
Sources by period
— 1650: McEvedy & Jones “McEvedy, Colin and Richard Jones, 1978, “”Atlas of World Population History,”” Facts on File, New York, pp. 342-351.” As cited by US census bureau
— 10.000 BC to – 1900 (except 1650): Biraben (except 1650 from McEvedy Jones) “Biraben, Jean-Noel, 1980, An Essay Concerning Mankind’s Evolution, Population, Selected Papers, December, table 2. As cited in US census bureau”
— 1800 to 1949: Mainly Maddison via CLIO infra with some adjustments made by Gapminder to have estimates meet the UN data in 1950.
— 1950-2100: World Population Prospects 2017, medium variant
Chunk 2: Countries and regions: 1800 to 2100
We use UN population data between 1950 to 2100 from UN Population Division World Population Prospects 2017 and the forecast to year 2100 is using their medium fertility variant. For years before 1950, this version uses the data documented in greater detail by Mattias Lindgren in version 3 below. The main source there was Angus Maddison’s data which is maintained and improved by CLIO Infra Project.
When combining version 3 with the new UN data, the trends for a few countries didn’t match up in the overlapping year 1950, and small adjustments were made to the years before and after to smooth out the discrepancy between the two sources to avoid sudden jumps in our visualisations.
For transparency we provide the files we used to calculate this data here, but we haven’t had time to clean them up and document all the steps in the process, see our data method overview. Any questions about the data and suggestions for how to improve it are always very welcome: in our data forum.
Data from 1700 to 2100 as well as data for several countries before 1700.
The excel-file include all available observations, together with meta-data for each observation. In version1 of this data we also included “data quality” for each observation. The data quality indicator has not been updated, so it refers to the earlier version.
» Download documentation (pdf)
» Download Excel-file with data, including interpolations & detailed meta-data (xlsx)
» Go to the google-spreadsheet that contains a copy of the data
» Visualise indicator (Gapminder World, the size of bubbles)
» Visualise indicator with projections (Gapminder World, the size of bubbles)
» Download documentation (version1) (pdf)
» Download Excel-file with data, including interpolations & detailed meta-data for version 1 (xlsx)
» Go to the google-spreadsheet that contains a copy of the “data quality rates” for the indicator (version 1)