A cross-verified database of notable people, 3500BC-2018AD

Morgane Laouenan, Palaash Bhargava, Jean Benoît Eyméoud, Olivier Gergaud, Guillaume Plique, Etienne Wasmer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A new strand of literature aims at building the most comprehensive and accurate database of notable individuals. We collect a massive amount of data from various editions of Wikipedia and Wikidata. Using deduplication techniques over these partially overlapping sources, we cross-verify each retrieved information. For some variables, Wikipedia adds 15% more information when missing in Wikidata. We find very few errors in the part of the database that contains the most documented individuals but nontrivial error rates in the bottom of the notability distribution, due to sparse information and classification errors or ambiguity. Our strategy results in a cross-verified database of 2.29 million individuals (an elite of 1/43,000 of human being having ever lived), including a third who are not present in the English edition of Wikipedia. Data collection is driven by specific social science questions on gender, economic growth, urban and cultural development. We document an Anglo-Saxon bias present in the English edition of Wikipedia, and document when it matters and when not.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number290
JournalScientific Data
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistics and Probability
  • Information Systems
  • Education
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Statistics, Probability and Uncertainty
  • Library and Information Sciences


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