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1) Out of the 7 billion+ people alive today, around how many have earned a PhD in physics?

2) Around how many physicists are working today?

3) Around how many physicists are being added to the work force yearly?

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closed as too broad by John Rennie, Ben Crowell, Michael Brown, Emilio Pisanty, Chris White Aug 30 '13 at 16:31

There are either too many possible answers, or good answers would be too long for this format. Please add details to narrow the answer set or to isolate an issue that can be answered in a few paragraphs.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

People are voting to close because it's too broad but it's also off topic and, almost by definition, "primarily opinion-based." This question may (no gaurantees) get a better reception at the academia stackexchange, or maybe meta?? Anyway, there aren't too many actual physicists on here who are likely to spend the time to write a really good answer to this, but I hope you get one before it's closed. :) – Michael Brown Aug 30 '13 at 15:11
My short answers to the most interesting questions: 9) Yin and yang. Good days and bad. But mostly excited! In the theory realm people are coming up with really amazing things these days, and in the experimental realm there are surprises in condensed matter, and tense anticipation in hep. :) 10) I'm a Ph.D student, so only just getting started in real research... but it is very hard coming up with an original idea! That is, an original idea that stands a chance of being right, or useful... – Michael Brown Aug 30 '13 at 15:22
7 friggin' questions, each worth a Ph.D. in labor statistics. And 8 poll items, each worth less than a jug of root beer. How come this post has got 3 upvotes? – Deer Hunter Aug 30 '13 at 15:23
dj_mummy: this site is not for OPINIONS. it is for objective, verifiable answers. Please re-read the basics of SE. As for Africa, you can do a head count by looking at departmental-level websites. There aren't that many of them. – Deer Hunter Aug 30 '13 at 15:33
This question appears to be off-topic because it is about sociology, not physics. It is also too broad. It is also opinion-based. – Chris White Aug 30 '13 at 16:31

I can only offer you some figures I know: in the Netherlands every year around a thousand students start studying physics at the university. In a very crude estimation we can multiply this by 10 (5 years to earn a masters and 4 to earn a PhD) and say that if this number of enrolling students has been constant for quite some time, about 10.000 STUDYING (edit) physicists live in the Netherlands, which is about 0.06% of the Dutch population.


-I recently read that the Netherlands is one of the European countries with the lowest percentage of science students, so the total percentage of the whole of Europe might be higher.


-As mentioned in the comments I forgot the fact that the physicists continue living after studying. Assuming that a person finishes his PhD at his 30th and lives until his 70th (again, everything is very crude here!), and taking into account the fact the fewer people went studying several decades ago, I would say the upper bound is 0.3% physicists.

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It seems to me that you are assuming in your calculation that all Dutch physicists die (or emigrate or otherwise stop being physicists living in the Netherlands) immediately after graduation. – Keep these mind Aug 30 '13 at 15:30
@aufkag - the bit about emigration is worth exploring :P – Deer Hunter Aug 30 '13 at 15:38
Thanks +1. I just want a global perspective, which is what this answer gave me. – dj_mummy Aug 30 '13 at 15:43
@aufkag of course, you are completely right! – Funzies Sep 1 '13 at 20:32
@Erik Of course. :) But, unfortunately, depending on how much "fewer people went studying several decades ago", your calculation still seems wrong. $1000\times 50 / 17000000\approx 0.3\%\neq0.1\%$. – Keep these mind Sep 1 '13 at 20:55

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