More than anything else, the uncertain economy has left many people feeling pessimistic about the state of the world. The threat from Middle East terrorists also hovers in the background as another reason for negative attitudes.
While these factors look bad, an examination of the big trends in the world paints a very different picture. A glance at the actual statistics concerning key components of wellbeing provide solid evidence that people’s lives, on average, have improved in recent decades and continue to improve. Here are four areas with good news.
1. Longer Lives
It’s true that in some regions of the world, such as parts of Africa, there can be temporary declines in average life span, but the overall trend has been an increase in how long people can expect to live. Keep in mind that in many places, such as North America, there hasn’t even been any short-term setbacks. The key players in making this possible have been increasing wealth and scientific discoveries. These forces have made their way throughout the globe during the 20th century and into the 21st century. One dramatic fact that’s resulted from this spread is that the average world lifespan has grown from 47 years in 1950 to 70 years in 2011.
2. Growing Wealth
Another area where the facts don’t warrant pessimism is in the standard of living throughout the world. The spread of more democratic governments is credited by most experts to be the main driving force. Governments that have to be responsive to their people are going to be more concerned about whether they succeed or not. The single best example of this improvement is regarding what the World Bank has defined as extreme poverty; anyone making $1.25 per day or less. In 1981, 40% of the globe’s population fell into this category. By 2010, this situation only applied to 14% of people worldwide.
3. Less Violence
The mechanics behind growing wealth and health are relatively easy to understand. Another piece of good news, the decline of worldwide violence, is a bit more mysterious to figure out. It’s thought that emergency medical and policing technologies play a role. It’s also believed that higher income levels make people less likely to commit crimes. These ideas can’t explain all of it, though. Others have proposed even more unconventional theories to account for the reductions, including the removal of toxic lead from the environment.
Another bit of good news is the increase in literacy worldwide. This phenomenon can be connected to improving living standards in a feedback loop. Wealthier people can better educate their children. These children then grow up and become more productive. While increases in wealth and longevity have not taken place evenly throughout the world, this is one situation where the improvements have been consistent everywhere. Globally, the rate stands at just over 84% as of 2010.
Do you feel a little better now? When you look at the right metrics, things seem to be just fine with the world. If you want to feel even better, studies have shown that donating to charities can make you feel better about life, and make you happier. Give it a try, and you might agree; the world isn’t so bad after all.