Number of beds in the world

Just a random shower thought. What’s the ratio between all the beds on Earth and its population? It’s clear that beds outnumber people, but by how many? I have no idea how big the proportion of hotel beds and other kinds of accommodating facility beds is. And I wonder if this question has ever been pondered, you know, scientifically and/or seriously.
To make it clear, let’s assume that a “bed” is kinda fixed. A hammock or a multi-purpose sofa won’t count.

Do you include toy beds, like those found in doll houses? What about pet beds (as in, actual bedding for a pet to sleep in)? Does it have to be specifically for humans to use?

Not at all clear to me. Plenty of people sleep without something we would call a “bed”, and plenty of people share beds.

@Moriarty Yeah, let’s limit it to humans. Using that common sense, dolls don’t count.
@Chronos I think the percentage of people without a roof is small. Among those with proper houses, it’s usual for only couples and perhaps young siblings to share a bed. And houses often have guest room, a vacant room of someone going for a time, or even extra beds for future members. Adding them up and I came to that conclusion.

I’d say the percentage of people without housing is significant in many countries.

UN Habitat Housing
“By 2030, UN-Habitat estimates that 3 billion people, about 40 per cent of the world’s population, will need access to adequate housing. This translates into a demand for 96,000 new affordable and accessible housing units every day. Additionally, an estimated 100 million people worldwide are homeless and one in four people live in harmful conditions”

Global Homeless Statistics
" The last time a global survey was attempted – by the United Nations in 2005 – an estimated 100 million people were homeless worldwide. As many as 1.6 billion people lacked adequate housing (Habitat, 2015). In 2021, the World Economic Forum reported that 150 million people were homeless worldwide."

An estimated 100 million people are homeless worldwide

And what is the minimum definition of a human bed. A blanket or roll on the ground count?

In the First World, what you say is probably true.

Most of the world’s population is not in the First World.

@nofloyd Going with the upper range number, 150m still accounts for <2% of the population, which confirms my hunch that it’s small.
A rolling blanket doesn’t count IMO, because it’s not fixed and the space is then used for other purposes during the day. If it’s primitive but stays in place for a long time then it’s a ‘bed’, for the purpose of discussion only.

@Chronos Man, I live in and am from a 3rd world country, with a GDP per cap of less than $4,000. I’ve traveled around and “couch-surfed” in poor families, where even they have a ratio of bed:person hover around 1:1.

When I was in Haiti I saw some of the homes that for sleeping was basically 2 blankets. This in a block structure home, about the size and look of a one car garage made of cinderblocks where one would have trouble opening the car door to get in because it’s so small, and have to park right against the end wall to close the garage door, with a dirt floor. One blanket would be the mattress and the other the blanket. Not sure of the OP would count that as a bed, but if not would detract from the bed to person ratio

But hotels are also a small percentage. What proportion of their nights do you think the average person spends in hotel beds, as opposed to “their own” bed? That’s a first-order estimate for the proportion of the total number of beds that hotels have. Maybe double that, to account for uneven use of hotel rooms, but that order of magnitude.

The Haiti example might fall into either the “homeless” or the “inadequate” category under those economist lenses. For this topic, I think it doesn’t count as a bed.

Yep, small, but still bigger than 150m beds I think. And no, my question concerns beds regardless of whether it’s slept on or not. Actually for this very notion that I speculate that beds far outnumber people.

And aside from hotels, there are a whole host of other kinds of institutions that employ beds. I know that churches have a lot of beds although their permanent residents are small. What about college campus? Casinos, for another thought. Boats also have bunk beds, they’re fixed to the vehicle so I think they count.

Where are you seeing churches with a lot of beds? A few folding cots, maybe, but you said you weren’t counting temporary beds.

College dorms won’t contribute much, because those beds are used almost every night. Who uses them changes from year to year, but you need beds that don’t usually have people sleeping in them to drive up the bed/person ratio.

I suppose that while someone’s at college, the bed in their old bedroom at their parents’ house would count (if their parents kept their old room; not all do), but be careful that you’re not double-counting: That’s probably the same bed that their parents use for guests, while the student isn’t there.

You’re underestimating the percentage of the world who do not use beds. It’s not just about being rich or poor. Plenty of rich Koreans don’t use a proper bed. I’m sure they’re not the only ones.

I stayed in some very nice hotels in Japan where they gave me a quilt to roll out on the floor, not a bed. I liked it, it made excellent user of the space, and the ones with real grass mats on the floor smelled nice.

Anyway, that makes me suspect that as lot of Japanese might not have a bed, including wealthy Japanese with nice homes.

e.g. Hospitals, prisons, military barracks, rehabilitation centers, mattress stores, cruise ships

How many of the people sleeping in college dorms also have a bed of their own “back home”?

The question so much depends on what counts as a “bed.” I can imagine some people saying that anything that anyone habitually sleeps on is, by definition, a bed, while others define the term much more narrowly.

100,000,000 homeless people would be absolutely dwarfed by the number of extra beds there are:

  1. Hotels are full of extra beds, as well as other forms of commercial, temporary, or institutional structures such as hospitals, barracks, shelters, and the like.

  2. While we have to double up many cohabiting couples who share a bed, the number of extra beds in homes is fairly high and more than makes up for it. This is, granted, a minor luxury, but it’s a very common one in all but the poorest places.

  3. You also have to count beds in furniture stores, which have not been put to use but will be.

I don’t think the rich Koreans would agree with you. A futon or mat on the floor with pillows and blankets is definitely a bed (and they can be rather excellent beds.)

The world has approximately 16.97 million hotel rooms. Even generously allowing two beds per room, that’s 34 million beds.

Worldwide 2.9 Hospital beds per 1000 people. Feel free to double check my math, but that seems to work out to roughly 23,000,000 for eight billion people.

We’re up to about 60 million spare beds now. A goodly number to be sure, but there have to be hundreds of millions of people who sleep on a mat, a blanket, a mattress with no frame, or a bare floor.

It can certainly be an excellent and comfortable place to sleep. I think the definition of a “bed” is critical to answering this question.

That’s such a tiny proportion that, realistically speaking, no, we don’t need to count them.