# What is the population of Panem at the start of The Hunger Games series?

We know that District 12 has a population of about 8,000:

The square's quite large, but not enough to hold District 12's population of about eight thousand.

The Hunger Games, p.17

This is reinforced later when Katniss revisits District 12:

More than ninety percent of the district's population is dead. The remaining 800 or so are refugees in District 13.

Mockingjay p.4

And we know that District 4 has a population of 111,453 (taken from a link in Himarm's answer to one of my other questions):

But I was unable to find any information on the other districts' populations, or the Capitol's population. I tried using the Internet Archive to get at the census data from the other districts on the Lions Gate Hunger Games website (http://www.thecapitol.pn/), but had no luck.

Is there enough canon information to get a proper population estimate of Panem (the Capitol and Districts 1-12) at the time of the Reaping for the 74th Hunger Games?

• The districts are definitely not all of comparable size. It's mentioned in the books that District 11, for instance, is much bigger than District 12. – Rand al'Thor Nov 25 '15 at 0:01
• @randal'thor right, but is it talking about size or population? There are some pretty good maps out there, and 12 is definitely physically smaller, but that does not necessarily have a direct correlation to population. But, that's the point of the question. I assume the other districts have different population levels, so we cannot say 96,000. – Dave Johnson Nov 25 '15 at 15:00
• Definitely talking about population. In Catching Fire, Katniss notices there are a lot more people in 11 than 12, and wonders how the reaping is done since they can't all fit in one square like in 12. – Rand al'Thor Nov 25 '15 at 22:20

Someone has gone to a fair bit of trouble to work out this figure here, and their argument certainly sounds convincing. This is a fairly long answer, but I didn't snip anything as the argument is impressive in its level of attention to detail.

The book implies that the development of civilization is not much different than the present day world because the devastating effects of the wars and natural disasters counteracted any progress that was made over the decades. Therefore Centives will use the contemporary world as a basis for several assumptions.

The first thing we know is that after the catastrophes that lead to the end of civilization as we know it, the population of North America is substantially lower than it is today. We also know that each of the districts specialize in some unit of production. Here’s the list:

1. Luxury Goods
2. Stone Mining, Cutting, Weapons Production
3. Electronics
4. Fishing
5. Unknown
6. Transportation
7. Lumber - Paper
8. Textiles
9. Unknown - Grain strongly hinted
10. Livestock
11. Agriculture
12. Coal

The first thing that is evident at once is that District 12 is the only district dedicated to producing a form of power. Therefore, we can predict, based on Panem’s need for power, about how many people reside in the country. The first thing to consider is how many of the residents actually work in the coal mines. We know that district 12 has about 8,000 citizens. It is also understood that the population is generally young. Katniss mentions that, in District 12, so many people die young that living old enough to have grey hair is something worthy of admiration. Therefore we can estimate that the majority of District 12’s inhabitants are younger than 60. Katniss describes the percentage of the people who live above the poverty line, or in the “Merchant Class” to be “very small”. Centives assumed that since district 12 is one of the poorer districts, and most of Panem is living in poverty, that only 10-15% live above the poverty line, with the rest of District 12 living in the Seam, the poverty stricken area of district 12.

While some of those living in the Seam have other professions like Katniss’s mother, or do not work, it is implied that the majority of those who of adults go and work in the mines. How many miners does Panem have? If we subtract the merchant class then there are 7,000 potential workers. Malawi, Rwanda, Mozambique, Brazil, Madagascar, Guinea and Niger have poverty rates today, according to the World Bank that are similar to those we estimate exist in District 12 of Panem. In those seven countries on average about 40% of the population is young according to the CIA World Factbook. So we can subtract another 2800 people from the number of miners. Assuming that a number of people don’t, or are unable to work, Centives concludes that about 4,000 people mine coal in District 12.

Using this we can estimate how much coal District 12 produces. In the United States today we have roughly 100,000 people producing 973MT (million tons) of coal a year. That comes out to .0092 MT/ Year of coal per worker. If we assume that the technology hasn’t changed much since our present time then 4000 District 12 workers could produce 37.12 MT/Coal a year.

What kind of population could you sustain with this much energy? The book suggests that the war was so devastating that it returned Panem to a pre-industrial age. People use less energy in such areas, and so a bigger population could be supported on fewer resources. Let’s return to those countries that the World Bank said had a similar poverty rate, and, let’s assume, a similar population to energy support ratio. Brazil is the most prominent example and it consumes about 13 MT of coal a year. But unlike in Panem, coal only makes up about 1% of their energy consumption. If coal was the only resources that Brazilians used to produce energy then they would have to produce 185MT of coal a year to support a population of 200 million. This comes out to about 0.93 MT of coal for every million inhabitants.

But the income inequality depicted in Panem seems to be at levels that are unimaginable in today’s era. It’s fair to assume that between the capital and the vast amounts of energy required to maintain the electrified fences only about 90% of the energy produced is used on the citizens of Panem that reside outside of the capital. This leaves about 3.7 MT of coal for the majority of Panem. If we assume that the Brazilian ratio of energy to population holds true in Panem as well, Centives estimates that Panem can support a population of 4 million within its 12 districts. The book gives us no reason to believe that there are any other sources of energy or international trade of any sort. Given these numbers we now see that Susan Collins was not exaggerating when she claimed the population of Panem to be significantly less than that of the United States today. The last time the United States had a population this small was in the late 1700s. With numbers like that, the odds of being reaped into the Hunger Games are certainly not in your favour.

• Please read the comments from the linked article. You will find out, that the numbers are not convincing at all. – raznagul Nov 25 '15 at 15:27
• A good find, and interesting conclusions, but I am pretty sure they get electricity elsewhere as well. I will try to find something in the book. In the movie they blow up a hydro-electric plant, and it seems an odd thing to add for the sake of adding. But maybe they did. – Dave Johnson Nov 25 '15 at 15:36
• this whole thing is based off the assumption that coal is the only energy in panem, while we see a hydro electric plant powering the capital (if only in the movie checking for book quotes) as well as a reference to a solar field. – Himarm Dec 1 '15 at 16:10
• @Himarm Well, at least it's based off something other than a bullshit Wikia quote, unlike the other answer! :-) – Rand al'Thor Dec 1 '15 at 21:38
• @Himarm The other answer doesn't mention Capitol.pn, nor does the relevant paragraph in the Wikia. If you've found a more canonical source which supports that answer, maybe you should edit in a link or at least leave one in a comment. My finger is twitching near the downvote button on both that answer and your one today ;-) (I'm leery of film canon in any case - the primary source material is the books - but the OP doesn't seem to have specified book or film canon in either question, so that's just my personal preference.) – Rand al'Thor Dec 1 '15 at 21:52

District 12 is a relatively sparsely populated district due to bombings through two spouts of rebellion and the fact it is a mining district, relatively rural compared to the Capitol.

According to this link on Wikia:

Panem has a population of 4,556,778 people. Adding up the Capitol and 12 districts gives it a population of only 1,905,286 people.

But as we know Wikia isn't the most reliable of sources.

Anything else I can find is purely speculation, so no definitive answer unfortunately.

• That claim on Wikia is unsourced. In the same paragraph, they say the population is 4,556,778, which looks like a suspiciously 'nice' number numerologically, without actually being a round number (what sort of census yields a population figure that's not even a multiple of 10?) Looks like a troll on Wikia to me. – Rand al'Thor Nov 24 '15 at 16:56
• I did say in my answer "as we know Wikia isn't the most reliable of sources". This is the only information regarding Panem's population online, so I thought it'd be worth mentioning, even if I have discredited it in the very same breath. – John Bell Nov 24 '15 at 17:01
• The 4,500,000 ish sounds about right. In the US, we have less than .08% as miners. I assume their population uses a simular labor breakdown, 50% of District 12 are employed by the mines, and all mining takes place in District 12. This results in 5,000,000 people in Panem. This is, however, just a convienient way to estimate this. – kaine Nov 24 '15 at 18:57
• That means there are 2.6M people in District 13? – Dave Johnson Nov 25 '15 at 15:47
• @randal'thor actually the source to the claim on the wiki is capitol.pn a site hosted by lionsgate, that released lots of info about panem in regards to the movies. while not as canon as the books or movies, being company that made the movies, its sites are probably a decent place for secondary canon, or expanded canon. – Himarm Dec 1 '15 at 16:28