July 21, 2017

40 Ways the World Is Getting Better

By Marian L. Tupy
One of the reasons for starting Human Progress in 2013 was to allow the users of the website to see the multitude of ways in which the state of humanity was improving. While most people already know that we live longer and earn higher incomes than our ancestors, many people fail to appreciate that the story of human progress is truly multidimensional, including (in alphabetical order) increases in charitable contributions, improved communications, improving business environment and economic freedom, better access to education and cheap energy, a cleaner environment, more food, greater gender equality, improved governance (on average), better health, improved housing, an overall rise in human freedom, progress in labor (fewer work hours and fewer on-the-job injuries), more leisure time, falling prices of most natural resources, increased tourism, cheaper and safer transportation, declining violence and, as mentioned, growing wealth. Our website allows users to access over 1,100 datasets and millions of data points related to all of the above areas of progress and much more. So, as a shameless plug for our website, we have compiled a random list of 40 ways in which the world is getting better, giving all of us, I hope, grounds for optimism about the future.
  1. More people than ever own a personal computer
  2. In just over a decade, it has become substantially easier to start a business
  3. More people than ever have access to sound money
  4. For children aged 7 and under, the expected average years of schooling has never been higher
  5. Global coal consumption is trending downward, thus easing CO2 emissions
  6. Chlorofluorocarbon consumption has reached an all-time low
  7. Wheat yields for U.S. agriculture have never been higher
  8. Internet access in schools has substantially increased
  9. On average, freedom of the press has never been higher
  10. Access to improved sanitation facilities has sky-rocketed
  11. The size of new U.S. homes increases every year
  12. Global labor productivity has shot up over the last six decades
  13. The aerospace industry adds billions of dollars of value to economy
  14. Tourism accounts for a growing share of world GDP
  15. Sales revenue for U.S. manufacturing firms continues to grow
  16. More people than ever are traveling by air
  17. Support for gay marriage in the U.S. has grown greatly
  18. The percent of people living in extreme poverty has never been lower
  19. There are more cellular subscriptions than people
  20. Less regulation of credit, labor, and business has increased economic freedom
  21. Youth literacy has reached an all-time high
  22. U.S. energy consumption has decreased
  23. The price of common food items has declined
  24. Globally, the number of women in the labor force has never been higher
  25. The world is becoming more innovative with each year
  26. More children than ever are being vaccinated for polio
  27. In Europe, ovarian cancer death rates are at an all-time low
  28. In the developing world, share of people living in slums is decreasing
  29. The amount of time women spend on laundry has dropped significantly
  30. The global satellite industry revenue increases by billions every year
  31. Tourism increases as travel becomes easier
  32. Car ownership rates have hit an all-time high
  33. Execution rates in the U.S. have hit an all-time low
  34. U.S. families are adopting new technology at a quicker pace than before
  35. Internet use has sky-rocketed
  36. There are fewer undernourished people than ever before
  37. The amount of work-related injuries has never been lower
  38. The quality of primary schooling hit an all-time high
  39. Cancer rates are declining
  40. The number of people who smoke on a daily basis has never been lower
This first appeared in Reason.