Most of the improvement in life expectancy in the last 10,000 years has taken place in the last 100 years.

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.

Life expectancy

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:

Continue reading “Most of the improvement in life expectancy in the last 10,000 years has taken place in the last 100 years.”

Growth in world population

Our World in Data, the web site of Max Roser, visualizes data in amazing ways. Check out this graph of world population:

World Population over the last 12,000 years and UN projection until 2100” by Our World in Data is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.  The graphs which follow are derived from this information and are licensed for use by others under the same CC BY-SA 3.0 license.

Very cool. The dramatic expansion in the number of people is amazing.

This discussion is cross-posted from my other blog, Outrun Change, because it provides context for past and future discussions of ancient finances.

The graph includes projections through 2100. I pulled out the projections and developed the following graph:

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Population in Scandinavia during Viking Age

Icelandic farm recreation. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

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:

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