Global Orphans: The Numbers

There’s a broad range of seemingly contradictory numbers floating around the Internet regarding the estimated number of orphans in the world.  So we figured it’d be best to go source.  The following clarification comes thanks to help from a gracious friend of a friend at the U.N.

  • 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.

By Jedd Medefind