200 years of amazing progress


A pretty stunning graph showing how much the world has changed for the better for the vast majority. We’ve gone from 95% of humans in to under 20% – and the biggest change has been the last 50 years.

Dylan Matthew at Vox reports:

If you’ve ever doubted that 2015 is the best time to be alive in human history to date, take a look at this chart …

In the 19th century, extreme poverty — defined here as living on less than $1.25 a day* — was the norm. In 1820, 94.4 percent of humans were below that line. Only a tiny fraction of the world enjoyed standards of living that were remotely bearable. Progress was initially slow. By 1910, the share had only gotten down to 82.4 percent — a 12-point drop over 90 years. But things picked up after World War II, and 89 years after 1910, only 28.9 percent of people were in extreme poverty. To repeat: From 1820 to 1910, there was a 12-point drop. From 1910 to 1999, there was more than a 53-point drop.

This also explains a lot of our global political history. When 80% of the world is living in poverty, then communism and socialism looks very attractive. But it has actually been the spread of capitalism to China and India that has led to the massive declines in poverty.

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