The world is actually becoming a better place

Despite a lot of bad news and dire predictions NZ Herald repeats a story from The Conversation on Seven charts that show the world is actually becoming a better place.

Obviously that means better for people overall, there are some who have had a deterioration in their situations, like in Syria and Yemen (wars are always crap for people, but there are fewer and smaller wars these days).

Of course this doesn’t look intoo the future and what may happen through things like over-population, pollution, depletion of resources and climate change.

Swedish academic Hans Rosling has identified a worrying trend: not only do many people across advanced economies have no idea that the world is becoming a much better place, but they actually even think the opposite. This is no wonder, when the news focuses on reporting catastrophes, terrorist attacks, wars and famines.

Who wants to hear about the fact that every day some 200,000 people around the world are lifted above the US$2-a-day poverty line? Or that more than 300,000 people a day get access to electricity and clean water for the first time every day?

These stories of people in low-income countries simply doesn’t make for exciting news coverage. But, as Rosling pointed out in his book Factfulness, it’s important to put all the bad news in perspective, reports The Conversation.

While it is true that globalisation has put some downward pressure on middle-class wagesin advanced economies in recent decades, it has also helped lift hundreds of millions of people above the global poverty line – a development that has mostly occurred in South-East Asia.

one of the big facts of economic history is that until quite recently a significant part of the world population has lived under quite miserable conditions – and this has been true throughout most of human history. The following seven charts show how the world has become a much better place compared to just a few decades ago.

I won’t include the charts here but this is what they claim:

1. Life expectancy continues to rise.

During the Industrial Revolution, average life expectancy across European countries did not exceed around 35 years. Now it is getting close to 80. It has risen to over 70 in most other parts of the world, except Africa but even there it is on the rise and now over 60.

2. Child mortality continues to fall

More than a century ago, child mortality rates were still exceeding 10% (and were much higher than that 200 years ago). This halved overall, and for many parts of the world it is close to 1%.

3. Fertility rates are falling

 UN population estimates largely expect the global population to stabilise at about 11 billion by the end of this century.

That’s still a lot more than the current population of about 7.5 billion.

4. GDP growth has accelerated in developed countries.

Low-income countries, including China and India, have been growing at a significantly faster pace in recent decades and are quickly catching up to the West. A 10% growth rate over a prolonged period means that income levels double roughly every seven years. It is obviously good news if prosperity is more shared across the globe.

5. Global income inequality has gone down

While inequality within countries has gone up as a result of globalisation, global inequality has been on a steady downward trend for several decades. This is mostly a result of developing countries such as China and India where hundreds of millions of people have seen their living standards improve.

6. More people are living in democracies

As of today, about half of the human population is living in a democracy. Out of those still living in autocracies, 90% are in China.

7. Conflicts are on the decline

Throughout history, the world has been riven by conflict. In fact, at least two of the world’s largest powers have been at war with each other more than 50% of the time since about 1500.

While the early 20th century was especially brutal with two world wars in rapid succession, the postwar period has been very peaceful. For the first time ever, there has been no war or conflict in Western Europe in about three generations.

All of these indicators are positive for us here in New Zealand. We live in the best of times ever in human existence, in one of the most human friendly parts of the world. We have a lot to be thankful for, but shouldn’t be complacent about future challenges.

Leave a comment

27 Comments

  1. Duker

     /  21st January 2019

    Is this another Cato Foundation globalization feel good story that only gets publicity in the silly season ?

    Reply
  2. Blazer

     /  21st January 2019

    start with…’Or that more than 300,000 people a day get access to electricity and clean water for the first time every day’

    Evidence please….300,000×365=109,000,000+….pull the other one it plays….’fly me to the moon’!

    Reply
  3. Gezza

     /  21st January 2019

    Strangest thing for me about the world at the moment is that people from shithole countries are flocking North trying to get into an arsehole’s country & that’s why he wants a wall, but he’ll possibly need to let them in to build it. 😐

    Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  21st January 2019

      Why is it strange?

      Reply
      • Gezza

         /  21st January 2019

        It’s not; it’s hilarious – but I’d already hit “Post Comment” & the “Cancel” option didn’t respond so I couldn’t change it. 😠
        Thanks for asking though. 😐

        Reply
  4. High Flying Duck

     /  21st January 2019

    https://ourworldindata.org/a-history-of-global-living-conditions-in-5-charts?linkId=62571595

    Reply
    • Blazer

       /  21st January 2019

      who would ever have guessed they kept accurate records ,monitoring those 6 criteria…..200 years…ago!

      Reply
      • david in aus

         /  21st January 2019

        Is your thesis that the world was better 200 years ago? It is self-evident that the world’s human life-expectancy, indicators of health and wealth has progressed every decade.

        Steven Pinker, Prof. at Harvard has written a book on this topic: Enlightenment Now.

        Bad news sell while good news grinds along.

        I had Jehova’s Witnesses come to my house, they asked leading questions on why the world is going down the tube, in an effort to convert me. The same tactics used by the Socialists; both faith-based religions.

        Blame “Neoliberalism” for the progress or regress (depending on your view) in the world.

        Reply
        • Blazer

           /  21st January 2019

          no I am merely challenging the self serving presentation as to its validity.

          Reply
          • David in Aus

             /  21st January 2019

            How about providing evidence to the contrary or showing the evidence is incorrect.

            Among those informed about human progress, there is general agreement of material progress.

            Those that have alternative points of view emphasise environmental and spiritual degradation. That I cannot argue against, as it is value based.

            Reply
    • Duker

       /  21st January 2019

      Trust Gates to FOCUS on 2 centuries ago. Never mind for the US and Western countries the downward slide since globalisation 2 DECADES ago

      Reply
  5. High Flying Duck

     /  21st January 2019

    Another good graph:

    Reply
    • Blazer

       /  21st January 2019

      hang on..I’ll just get some coloured pencils and a ruler and draw a whole lot of lines…that hopefully no one can prove or disprove as to their accuracy.

      Reply
    • Duker

       /  21st January 2019

      Looks like Albania , once again leads the world in progress…..snark

      Reply
  6. High Flying Duck

     /  21st January 2019

    A point that socialists constantly either miss or gloss over:

    “In a world without economic growth, such an increase in the population would have resulted in less and less income for everyone; A 7-fold increase in the world population would have been enough to drive everyone into extreme poverty. Yet, the exact opposite happened. In a time of unprecedented population growth our world managed to give more prosperity to more people and to continuously lift more people out of poverty.

    Increasing productivity was important because it made vital goods and services less scarce: more food, better clothing, and less cramped housing. Productivity is the ratio between the output of our work and the input that we put in our work; as productivity increased we benefitted from more output, but also from less input – weekly working hours fell very substantially.

    Economic growth was also important because it changed the relationship between people. In the long time in which the world lived in a non-growth world the only way to become better off is if someone else got worse off. Your own good luck is your neighbours bad luck. Economic growth changed that, growth made it possible that you are better off when others become better off. The ingenuity of those that built the technology that increased productivity – the car, the machinery, and communication technology – made some of them very rich and at the same time it increased the productivity and the incomes of others. It is hard to overstate how different life in zero-sum and a positive-sum economy are.”

    Reply
    • Blazer

       /  21st January 2019

      The greedies 2 favourite words….’growth’….and…’would’!

      Not forgetting to take the credit for every discovery and worthwhile invention.

      Reply
      • PDB

         /  21st January 2019

        Haven’t you noticed much better morning teas in your Otahuhu old folks home over the past few years Blazer?

        Reply
  7. PartisanZ

     /  21st January 2019

    Yes, the world is becoming a better place …. and no, it’s not …

    It depends on the ‘indicators’ we choose to use to measure it … and there’s too many people in too vast a variety of circumstances to make any universal statement anyhow …

    Each of the categories of ‘improvement’ requires qualification IMHO –

    Life Expectancy – must be balanced with Quality of Life

    Child Mortality – must be balanced, in Darwinina terms (Griff) with Gene Pool Quality

    Fertility Rates Falling – must be balanced with Aging Population Issues

    GDP Rates have accelerated in Developing Countries – must be balanced with ‘The $2 Extreme Poverty Line’ … Struggling to the surface and breaking through for air only to find out the air is extremely thin and somewhat poisonous … You, Bangladeshi peasant, are as valuable as a daily purchase from a $2 Shop!

    Global Inequality has gone down – must be balanced with “Where has it been?” … It’s like house prices during the GFC fell an average of no more than 5% … after rising 350% in the previous 5 years (kind of thing) … There has been an ever so minor “correction” in the extreme inequality … The plane leveled off at 30,000 before going down to 29,600 …

    More People are living in Democracies – and more people are living in Managed Democracies … which are managed in favour of the rich extreme of global inequality … the 1% …

    Conflicts are on the Decline – must be balanced by the question: What is our ideal of ‘Peace’ … like, our aspiration is zero road deaths … By that standard, perhaps conflicts have not declined nearly enough?

    Reply
    • Pink David

       /  21st January 2019

      “Child Mortality – must be balanced, in Darwinina terms (Griff) with Gene Pool Quality”

      You off for a waltz down the eugenics street?

      Reply
  8. PartisanZ

     /  21st January 2019

    Nah PD, just jogging the streets of open-mindedness …

    Gene editing anyone?

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  21st January 2019

      Gene editing – Gene Therapy offers us the best hope we have for eliminating a whole host of horrible gene-based awful conditions which have not only afflicted the human animal for generations but also propagated further as modern medicines costing a fortune have enabled people with them to survive and pass them on, where once they possibly would not have.

      A downside sometimes being that the chemical drugs that enable this do other damage to the users.

      But of course the concern is the way our society operates it may at least initially only be afforded by the very rich, at least to start out with, if the procedures and IP or tools needed to perform gene therapy get patented.

      I agree there are already issues around employers & others in places like the US wanting genetic info of individuals for selection purposes.

      But there’s still no way to know how someone with the “perfect” genes for some purpose will turn out because of the importance in a person’s development in how they are nurtured.

      Reply
      • PartisanZ

         /  21st January 2019

        Wow … Yeah … Gezza … That’s it in a nutshell mate!

        Really, it’s all there!

        Gene editing and all that sorta hi-tech medical & biological improvement stuff kinda brings us back around to the ‘eugenics crossroads’ all over again?

        A major difference being there’s now a greater element of personal choice … which is grotesquely interfered with and distorted by the ‘marketplace’ of wealth & poverty …

        Of Wealth & Power …

        The side-effects of the drugs may be worse than the disease itself … Which in some cases means: You may have to live through them … the side-effects …

        Why does a ‘free market’ have patents?

        And yeah … “purpose-built perfect genes” … is kinda freaky … “for selection purposes”?

        Given the opportunity, what will ‘Man’ manufacture of Himself? What will Homo Digitalis Sapiens Sembliens be like?

        And what would each of us manufacture of our self if we could? Sel8 = Selfinity

        “A person’s development” …. is that what our present-day civilization is actually interested in?

        Reply
  9. PartisanZ

     /  22nd January 2019

    Once upon a time, the world WAS becoming a better place …

    What the fuck happened!!!???

    Reply

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