How Many Orphans Are There? Update

When it comes to the number of orphans that exist in the world you hear a lot of different estimates. The more I think about it the bottom line is that there are way too many! When you get into the hundred millions it can be overwhelming.

That said, it is important as I posted before, to know the numbers and to know what makes up the number of orphans worldwide so that we can most effectively reach them and care for them. Jedd Medefind recently posted the updated UNICEF estimates and breakdown:

  • The official 2008 estimate from UNICEF (based on 2007 data) is 145 million orphans in the world. For this number, an orphan is defined as a child who has lost one or both parents.
  • For the “developing world” the total estimated number of orphans is 130 million. This includes statistics for Sub Saharan Africa, the Middle East, North Africa, South Asia, East Asia and the Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean, Central and Eastern Europe, and the Commonwealth of Independent States.

Since most people think of an orphan as a child who has lost both parents, these numbers can seem a bit misleading.

  • Included in the 2008 estimate of 145 million orphans are more than 92 million that have a surviving mother—-with whom they most likely live.
  • Another 38 million have a surviving father.

Doing the math, of the 145 million estimated orphans worldwide, approximately 15 million are “double” orphans—growing up without either mother or father.  That’s about ten percent of the whole.

Remember, these numbers represent children. Sons and daughters. Children that need care and children that need parents. Each of us can do something to make a difference in their lives. For some it will be visiting them with aid, for others it will be reducing the number of double orphans through adoption, one, two, three at a time!

7 thoughts on “How Many Orphans Are There? Update

  1. Jason,

    What about the orphan who has a living mother or father but has been placed for adoption because the living parent is unable to care for that child? The end of the post makes it sound like adopting double orphans is the only/best/right way to help through adoption.


    • Michelle,
      Thanks for your comment. I agree wholeheartedly that there are many ways to help these children, and adopting children that have a mother or father living but are unable to care for them is part of the solution. Three of my own adopted children came from that very situation.

  2. Pingback: Reality Check – How many orphans are in the world? « Here’s a little of me

  3. Pingback: FRC Blog » Orphanology: What Each Family Should Consider About Adoption

  4. Pingback: Orphanology: What Each Family Should Consider About Adoption | Foundation Life

  5. In Australia we have hardly any babies to adopt because they are all being aborted. Thousands of Australian’s would adopt overseas babies but their is so much red tape that prevents them from doing so. If countries were serious about having adoption available they would make it easier for countries to do so.

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