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Doing the Math: How many kids are at Hogwarts?

by David Haber

On October 16, 2000, in an interview, J.K. Rowling was asked, "How many students attend Hogwarts, and how many students per year per house?" and she replied, simply, "There are about a thousand students at Hogwarts." And because she said it, this has persisted as the proper answer accepted by most fans. But I don't see how that could be correct.

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Reader Comments: (Page 2)

Intresting, but another even more important question: How many wizards are they in the world? It seems like they are everywhere. So, how come there are only four wizard schools? If we assume that all schools have the same amount of students as Hogwarts and counts as J.K, that would mean that there are 4000 students all togheter. 4000 between the age of 11 and 18 in all the world. That would make a maximum of 40,000 to 50,000 all togheter. Is this possible?

Posted by Gabriel Rosenberg from Bet Shean, Israel on December 4, 2007 01:43 AM

I don't think you can use the movies to calculate the number of students at Hogwarts. One of the things I always notice is how many students there seem to be that Harry doesn't know, or doesn't know the name of..even in other houses in his year (look at Ginny's boyfriends). If there were only 280-300 students I'm sure he would be familiar with a greater proportion of them. Also, there may have been more than the 8 boys mentioned in the books in Harry's year in Griffindor, but they aren't mentioned because they aren't pertinent to the story. I always assumed there could be more than one dormitory for his year. Think of other school stories with classes of 25, not all 25 names are mentioned...just the names of the main characters. As to the common rooms not being big enough, remember we are talking about a magic place with rooms that can change size to accomodate the number of people in them...c.f. Slughorn's study at his Christmas party. I know I've just said we can't make assumptions about the number of students from the movies, but look at the size of Hogwarts castle...if there are only 280 students...what's happening in all the other space?

Also, I like the idea that the wizard community is not evenly distributed in the population, so Harry's year could just have had very few wizards in it, or just very few that were sorted into Griffindor. There's nothing to say that the sorting hat sorts approximately even numbers into each house. And thinking about it, maybe the characteristics it sorts by aren't evenly distributed in the population. Or maybe Voldemort's reign meant people had fewer children in those years? and hence there were fewer children in Harry's year. We don't know.

I think wizard families may not conform to the approximately 2 children (and falling) per family in Western European families...look at the Weasley's with seven and Harry and Ginny have three. Also, I think the wizarding community have their children younger...James and Lily were in their very early 20s when they had Harry.

Wizards and witches live longer than muggles so taking JKs statement of 1000 students at Hogwarts that gives about 143 per year (1000/7) which we take as the average number of wizards & witches born each year. If the average life expectancy is 100 years, that gives us a population of approximately 14,300 magical folk in the UK. If life expectancy is longer, say 120 then there are about 17,160 magical folk. Which gives a ratio (very approximately) of one in 1 in 3000 people in the UK being a witch or wizard.
If there are only 280 students, then there would be approximately 4,000 magical folk in the UK (life expectancy 100) or 4,800 (life expectancy 120)...actually fewer since some magical children are born to muggle families....or 1 in 12,000. I hope I've done my sums right..can't find a calculator just at present!

Posted by Joe from England on December 4, 2007 02:43 AM

If JK says there are 1000 students - then there are 1000 students. I suspect an average UK Comprehensive School has approximately 1000 students spread out over 7 years (5 years in compulsory education and then 2 years worth of 6th Form - GCSE/OWLS and then A levels/NEWTS)

PLUS, to quote from PoA and the Quidditch final, the stands are three quarters full of people wearing Gryffindor colours 'however, two hundred people were wearing green; the silver serpent of Slytherin glittered n their flags...'(PoA uk. pg 330) and seeing as how no self respecting Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, or HufflePuff would EVER suuport the Slytherin team - those two hundred people are Slytherin house members.

We only see a few members of Gryffindor because they are Harry's friends. I went through Secondary school without knowing everyone, I had my group of friends and I am guessing Harry works the same way.

With regards to 'double periods' - it most definitely means a lesson of double length, say 90mins instead of 45mins.

Posted by Orlando from England on December 4, 2007 03:13 AM

i think it woulde be more likely to be 1000 students because we may simply not see the other students around.

there may only be a small amount of gryffindors in harry's year and a small amount of students in the year as a whole. this could depend on how many childen were born the same year as harry. if, for example, there were more witches and wizards born the same year as fred and george than they was in the year harry was born this would increase the number of students of all seven years collectively making the number nearer to 1000 than the low hundreds

Posted by carl from england on December 4, 2007 09:20 AM

I am inclined to think it should be around 1000. But I am sure I read in one of JK's interview that she also said around 600-700 students. So I guess she hasn't really thought about it until she was asked.

In HBP, we know from the book that students may not be able to get into some classes without certain grades, like potions would require at least an "O" and Neville cannot get in. There were 20 students ended up in that class. So, we know 20 is a low number and not an average size class for year 1 to 5. It's reasonable to presume that classes are around 40-50s normally. By this calculation, then maybe there are 20-25 kids each house/year were admitted to Hogwarts. And that brings a total of 600-700 kids.

One question I have though, is, if life expectancy of witches and wizards are around 100-120 of years, and they have kids young (early 20's) then most of the magical community would be aged poplulation, wouldn't it?

Posted by Fiona from Hong Kong on December 4, 2007 12:18 PM

Hmmm it makes sense, could j.k. have miscalculated? but if she said so...maybe there were characters that harry did not notice therefore did not make it in to the books.

Posted by harry potter/luna lovegood lover on December 4, 2007 4:24 PM

Regardless of the total number of students in Hogwarts, I am sure that there are only the five known boys in Harry's year in Gryfindor. I can't remember where, but I am sure there are refernences to the "five four-posters" (ie beds) in Harry's dormitory, implying they are the only ones there.

Posted by Ben from Sydney on December 4, 2007 5:20 PM

i always thought that there were another dormitories... you can´t make conclusions out of a movie... because it's just unnecessary to put 1,000 people in the movie to make it seem like there´s a lot of people.

the double class means that there be 2 classes of potions, for example, and when it's a class together with the other house, maybe they divide the class, like half gryffindor and half slytherin goes to potions and the other half goes to hagrid's class, and vice-versa. they could do that to make an interactive class, so people in different houses can know each other.

Posted by keka on December 4, 2007 8:45 PM

Then, wouldn't it be called "Half Potions" and not "Double Potions"?

Posted by Dave Haber from Los Angeles, CA on December 4, 2007 8:46 PM

If JKR says that there are 1000 pupils at Hogwarts, then that's the real number because only she can see into Hogwarts. And, I am for that number.

In PoA, when Ron sees Sirius Black with a knife over him, he yells and wakes up the domitory. The next thing we know, he is running down the corridor in the boys domitory heading towards the common room. In so doing, DOORS in the boys domitory begin to open ALONG the corridor.

That gave me the impression that there are ALOT of doors in the Gryffindor Boys Domitory Chamber. Harry's domitory door is marked by the present year he's in.

In SS, he enters the door that is marked with 1ST YEARS, but I can not understand how he knows that that's the one among the many suppossed 1ST YEARS doors that must have been there.

I personally think that there is an unexplained magic to how these 1ST Years find their right bedrooms. That would explain how Neville managed to do it without getting lost. And that magic would be that: " can get lost anywhere in the howgarts castle except the right domitory where you belong..."

If these wizards live as long as Albus Dumbledore did (100+years), and have kids while still young, then we are looking at a very large number of wizards in the UK.

Those wizard folks were all over Britain in SS celebrating the vanquishing of the Dark Lord by the then Baby Harry Potter. They were on the streets messing up Uncle Vernon's day. They were in the country side setting off fireworks. These wizs are all over the place.

A key place to look for indicators of how many there are, is The Ministry of Magic. In OotF, Harry sees alot of wizards and witches there before his trial. I have to say that when I read that part I was awed at how many there are. And that was only a glipse of those who work there. What about those who work at Diagon Alley, Hogmeade?

Has anybody thought of some wizards and witches who for some reason refuse to be employed among their kind?

Joe from England, I agree with you. There are spells on that castle that makes it spaceable for ANY number of students at the school. Not even Dumbledore presumes to know all the secrets of the castle.

Posted by Rehema from Richmond, VA USA on December 5, 2007 02:14 AM

Yes, they would be a pretty aged population...maybe that's where we get our muggle stereotype of old witch!

Posted by Joe from England on December 5, 2007 04:07 AM

I tend to agree with the idea that in High School there would be 1000 students but when your put into your classes (in my case it was "sorted" by surname) then you only every interacted with 20-30 other students, so the same would apply here.

Posted by Richard Tawse from Glasgow on December 5, 2007 1:03 PM

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