Don't Let Bad Reporting Disguise the Good News

Neil Palmer (CIAT) CC-by-SA.20


For all the recent breathless coverage of the quality of countries around the world, the truth is, the entire human existence is improving, and has made exponential strides in the last 50 years.

This is fact, both real and alternative. Take these stats from

In 1966, average life expectancy was only 56 years. Today it’s 72. That’s an increase of 29 percent.

Out of every 1,000 infants born, 113 died before their first birthday. Today, only 32 die. That’s a reduction of 72 percent.

Median income per person rose from around $6,000 to around $16,000, or by 167 percent – and that’s adjusted for inflation and purchasing power.

The food supply rose from about 2,300 calories per person per day to over 2,800 calories, an increase of 22 percent, thus reducing hunger.

The length of schooling that a person could typically expect to receive was 3.9 years. Today, it’s 8.4 years – a 115 percent increase.

The world has become less authoritarian, with the level of democracy rising from -0.97 to 4.23 on a scale from -10 to 10. That’s an improvement of 5.2 points.

Is progress even? No? Is there more distance to climb? Yes.

Are you going to give up and crawl into a hole because the existential crisis seems so insurmountable? Hope not.

Try this on for size: A calculator that measures your country's progress since your birth date. With a handy comparison option to measure, for instance, where your family came from before they were in the United States. Give it a whirl, and let the good news lift you.