Monday, 18 March 2013

Death in the 20th Century

This fascinating graphic from The Guardian breaks down the causes of death in the 20th Century, perhaps the first truly global industrial century.

The biggest killer was non-communicable diseases, even excluding cancer: 1970m.

Infectious diseases caused: 1680m.

Cancer adds: 530m.

And Health Complications: 278m.

Against this natural events killed a mere: 176m.

And human causes: 980m.

Other people are more dangerous than the natural world, other than disease.

The most common cause of deliberate human induced death is old fashioned murder: 177m.

Ideology was behind 142m deaths and war killed only 131m.

But the most common way people killed each other was by accident: 298m.

Mind how you go.


  1. An excellent website John. Thanks for highlighting it. The data are, as the authors advertise, very selective. Africa is absent from the famine figures, for example. Even so, it is a thought-provoking post.

    Kind regards, Chris

    1. Dear Chris
      The figures are inevitably broad brushstroke with an error factor: double counting probably occurs to some degree.

      But the general trends are probably reasonably secure.

      Disease is still the prime force shaping human evolution.