09/15/2019

The World Is Getting Quietly, Relentlessly Better

If you spent 2018 mainlining misery about global warming, inequality, toxic politics or other anxieties, I’m here to break your addiction with some good news: The world got better last year, and it is going to get even better this year.

Poverty around the world is plummeting; half the world is now middle class; and illiteracy, disease and deadly violence are receding. These things don’t make headlines because they are gradual, relentless and unsurprising. That is why they are worth highlighting. The problems the world faces are far smaller than those it has already overcome and can be solved the same way: not by betting on miracles but by patiently applying knowledge and tools we already possess.

For most of recorded history humanity lived on the brink of starvation. As recently as 1980 nearly half the world lived in “extreme poverty,” that is, consuming less than the basic necessities, which the World Bank values at $1.90 a day in 2011 dollars, adjusted for the differing costs of goods and services between countries. The proportion of people in extreme poverty was projected to fall to an estimated 8.6% last year and, given the correlation between growth and poverty, is almost certain to drop further this year.

View Article
Site has paywall