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I was wondering if there are public available researches about the "disappear" rate of Bitcoins (wallet data lost, person died, forgotten eWallet access, ...).

This could be generated by checking "idle" public addresses with unspent money. Or by scraping information about data lost on public forums.

  • Out of curiosity, why would this info be useful to you? – Stephen Gornick Oct 9 '13 at 21:24
  • Once all coins are mined, I think this rate could be helpful to understand the evolution of the system – Wizche Oct 9 '13 at 21:31
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I've not touched a large part of my online wallet (two weeks), nor the paper wallets under my sink (two years), but they are by no means disappeared, idle or lost. There's really no way of telling, no matter how much thought is put into it.

Some coins can be called lost, that is they don't have any associated private keys known, but there's no way of verifying that they are indeed unspendable. The exceptions are spends to addresses that the private key was never known like 1BitcoinEaterAddressDontSendf59kuE‎ (1.6BTC).

There's an almost constant stream of suggestions that "idle" coins should be recycled, but really, what constitutes idle?

  • Good point, idle will be difficult to define with a time indicator since many users may have their bitcoins waiting for months or years without meaning that they are lost. And there is no way to tell which is the case. Although you could get a statistical information about what is the average transaction delay for user's addresses and "guess" which one are lost. (I know its bad) – Wizche Oct 5 '13 at 13:19
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It is impossible to tell lost coins from stored coins, because there is not way to tell if anyone has the private key associated with a foreign address.

The only coins that can realiably be declared lost are those that have been assigned to invalid recipient addresses.

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