Sunday, January 07, 2018

Why 2017 Was the Best Year in Human History

By Nicholas Kristof of The NY Times. Excerpts:
"2017 was probably the very best year in the long history of humanity.

A smaller share of the world’s people were hungry, impoverished or illiterate than at any time before. A smaller proportion of children died than ever before. The proportion disfigured by leprosy, blinded by diseases like trachoma or suffering from other ailments also fell."

"Every day, the number of people around the world living in extreme poverty (less than about $2 a day) goes down by 217,000, according to calculations by Max Roser, an Oxford University economist who runs a website called Our World in Data. Every day, 325,000 more people gain access to electricity. And 300,000 more gain access to clean drinking water."

"As recently as the 1960s, a majority of humans had always been illiterate and lived in extreme poverty. Now fewer than 15 percent are illiterate, and fewer than 10 percent live in extreme poverty."

"Just since 1990, the lives of more than 100 million children have been saved by vaccinations, diarrhea treatment, breast-feeding promotion and other simple steps."

"the 1950s, the U.S. also had segregation, polio and bans on interracial marriage, gay sex and birth control. Most of the world lived under dictatorships, two-thirds of parents had a child die before age 5, and it was a time of nuclear standoffs, of pea soup smog, of frequent wars, of stifling limits on women and of the worst famine in history."

"it’s also important to step back periodically. Professor Roser notes that there was never a headline saying, “The Industrial Revolution Is Happening,” even though that was the most important news of the last 250 years."


Anonymous said...

Every year we get economists saying the same thing.

There is more to life than economics. This year we had the rise of nationalism across the world, China increasingly taking the place of America on the world stage, we got less likely to effectively deal with the climate crisis as Trump pulled America out and the rapid rise of democracy and freedom has virtually gone into reverse with increasing authoritarianism and strongman leaders.

What matters much more to how 'good' the world is is things that threaten the good economic trends you mention (and there were many this year) and threats to democracy, civil rights and political freedoms.

Economists, ignoring politics, are at risk of calling the next 1933 'the best year in human history'.

Cyril Morong said...

Kristof is not an economist. And he mentions these problems. He just says that once a year he wants to point out some good news