Summary of A History of Global Living Conditions in 5 Charts

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Tales of gloom and doom dominate daily news headlines. No wonder most people believe the world is getting worse. But is it really? A group of economists led by Max Roser at the University of Oxford has launched an online publication that presents the hard facts on global development over the long run. The data paint a starkly different picture from most people’s perception of where the world is heading. Statistics show that the prospects and circumstances of most of humanity have improved spectacularly. getAbstract recommends Roser’s online publication to anyone eager for a reminder of what humanity has achieved in the past 200 years.

In this summary, you will learn

  • How daily negative news headlines give people a skewed picture of where the world is heading;
  • How historic data on overall human living conditions help people appreciate humanity’s progress over the past 200 years; and
  • How global living conditions in terms of poverty, health, literacy and political freedom have improved spectacularly over the long run.

About the Author

Max Roser is an economist at the University of Oxford, specializing in research on poverty, health and income.



In a survey conducted in several developed countries, only 6% of respondents in the United States and 4% in Germany believed “the world is getting better.” However, the data on global living conditions over the course of the past 200 years don’t corroborate this pessimistic perspective. Whether you look at global poverty, literacy, health or political freedom, the world is much better off in 2016 than ever before:

  • Poverty – Between 1950 and 2016, the percentage of people in the world who live in “extreme poverty” fell from 72% to below 10% – despite the world population...

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