Progress (Johan Norberg)

According to an ambitious attempt to measure poverty over the long run, with a $2 a day threshold for extreme poverty, adjusted for purchasing power in 1985,
94% of the world’s population lived in extreme poverty in 1820,
82% in 1910 and
72% in 1950.
But in the last few decades things have really begun to change.
Between 1981 and 2015
the proportion of low- and middle-income countries suffering from extreme poverty was reduced
from 54% to 12%.

2 thoughts on “Progress (Johan Norberg)

  1. shinichi Post author

    Progress: Ten Reasons to Look Forward to the Future

    by Johan Norberg

    It’s all over our televisions, newspapers and the internet. Every day we’re bludgeoned by news of how bad everything is – Brexit, financial collapse, unemployment, poverty, environmental disasters, disease, hunger, war. Indeed, our world now seems to be on the brink of collapse, and yet:

    We’ve made more progress over the last 100 years than in the first 100,000
    285,000 more people have gained access to safe water every day for the last 25 years
    In the last 50 years world poverty has fallen more than it did in the preceding 500

    Contrary to what most of us believe, our progress over the past few decades has been unprecedented. By almost any index you care to identify, things are markedly better now than they have ever been for almost everyone alive.

    Examining official data from the United Nations, the World Bank and the World Health Organization, Johan Norberg traces just how far we have come in tackling the issues facing our species. While it’s true that not every problem has been solved, we do now have a good idea of the solutions and we know what it will take to see this progress continue. Counter-intuitive, dramatic and uplifting, Progress is a call for renewed hope in defiance of the doom-mongering of politicians and the media.

  2. shinichi Post author

    A child born today is more likely to reach retirement age than his forebears were to live to their fifth birthday.


    So it was not superior thinkers, inventors or businesses that made Europe rich, but the fact that European elites were less successful in obstructing them… This is somewhat similar to our era of globalization. More countries, in more places, now have access to the sum of humanity’s knowledge, and are open to the best innovations from other places… If progress is blocked in one place, many others will continue humanity’s journey.


    Despite what we hear on the news and from many authorities, the great story of our era is that we are witnessing the greatest improvement in global living standards ever to take place.


    … wonderful paper by Jim Oeppen and James Vaupel looks at the forecasts of experts, including the United Nations and the World Bank, who have repeatedly asserted that life expectancy is approaching a ceiling. The paper concludes that those ceilings have always been broken, on average five years after the estimate was published. Oeppen and Vaupel point out that female life expectancy in the record-holding country has risen for an amazing 160 years at a steady pace of almost three months per year, and there is no end in sight. The apparent levelling off in some countries is an artefact of laggards catching up and leaders falling behind. Amazingly, there is not a single country that hasn’t seen improvements in infant and child mortality since 1950.


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