Johan Norberg describes the tremendous progress in the last several hundred years in so many areas: life expectancy, health, sanitation, liberty, education, and equality. He discusses these wonderfully delightful trends in his book Progress: 10 Reasons to Look Forward to the Future. I will highlight merely a few of the many things I found fascinating in the book.
This discussion is cross-posted from my other blog, Outrun Change, because the information from ancient times is useful on this blog.
In particular, notice the major trend that there was no change in life expectancy from prehistoric times through the early 1800s.
People in the Reformation era lived roughly as long as during the Viking Age, who lived about as long as during the Roman era and New Testament times, who in turn lived about as long as during the time of Alexander the Great and stories in the Old Testament after the book of Genesis.
Book provides the following estimates of life expectancy, which I graph above:
In The Vikings course from The Great Courses, Prof. Kenneth Harl guesses the population in the Scandinavian areas (which would become Norway, Denmark, and Sweden) from around 800 A.D. through around 1100 A.D. was something in the range of 800,000 to 1,000,000 people. He thinks migration to Ireland, England, and Iceland offset the natural population growth.
In Vikings at War by Kim Hjardar and Vegard Vike makes the following guesses for population at location 525 in Kindle edition: