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Our Spectacularly Improving World

There’s a lot wrong in the world, and, here in the United States, where government is expanding its rights-violating activities, lovers of liberty can easily become pessimistic. But, with a series of 30 charts, Rob Wile of Business Insider promises to “restore your faith in humanity.” The good news he conveys reminds us to appreciate just how great the world has become. Consider a few examples:

  • Whereas nearly three-fourths of the global population was enslaved or held in serfdom in the mid-1700s, today around one-tenth are. That’s profound progress.
  • Whereas, in the late 1800s, people in the United States and other industrial countries worked around 3,000 hours per year, today they work less than 2,000—and during the same time leisure spending has skyrocketed.
  • Life expectancy increased in the United States from 47 in 1900 to 77 in 1998.
  • Gun-related violence in the United States has declined substantially since the early 1990s.
  • Between about 1930 and 1950, the incidence of death in childbirth in the United States declined by about 85 percent.

Although several of Wile’s charts are a bit out of date, and although some of them are questionable (for example, his chart showing a decline in illiteracy does not account for degradation of literacy), he offers a welcome reminder that, in myriad ways, the world we live in is the best that anyone has ever lived in. As we work for better futures, let us not take for granted how good life is in most ways for most of us.

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