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HumanProgress.org is a project of the Cato Institute with major support from the John Templeton Foundation and the Searle Freedom Trust, as well as additional funding from the Brinson Foundation and the Dian Graves Owen Foundation. The website requires no registration or membership. All of its content and features can be used free, but acknowledgment is always appreciated.

What We Do

Evidence from individual scholars, academic institutions, and international organizations shows dramatic improvements in human well-being throughout much of the world. In recent decades, these improvements have been especially striking in developing countries. Unfortunately, there is often a wide gap between the reality of human experience, which is characterized by incremental improvements, and public perception, which tends to be quite negative about the current state of the world and skeptical about humanity’s future prospects.

To rectify the widely held misperceptions about the state of humanity, we have gathered empirical data from reliable sources that look at worldwide long-term trends. By putting together these comprehensive data in an accessible way, our goal is to provide a useful resource for students, scholars, journalists, policymakers, and the general public.

Whereas we think that policies and institutions compatible with freedom and openness are important factors in promoting human well-being, we let the evidence speak for itself. Finally, we hope that this website leads to a greater appreciation of the improving state of the world and stimulates an intelligent debate on the drivers of human progress.

What's Progress?

The Historical Thesaurus of the Oxford English Dictionary defines progress as “advancement to a further or higher stage, or to further or higher stages successively; growth; development, usually to a better state or condition; improvement . . . applied especially to manifestations of social and economic change or reform.” But, what do "higher stage" and "better state" mean? Are those terms purely subjective or can a near-universal understanding of human progress be arrived at? Steven Pinker from Harvard University provides an answer that the creators of this website also subscribe to:

"What is progress? You might think that the question is so subjective and culturally relative as to be forever unanswerable. In fact it's one of the easier questions to answer.

Most people agree that life is better than death. Health is better than sickness. Sustenance is better than hunger. Wealth is better than poverty. Peace is better than war. Safety is better than danger. Freedom is better than tyranny. Equal rights are better than bigotry and discrimination. Literacy is better than illiteracy. Knowledge is better than ignorance. Intelligence is better than dull-wittedness. Happiness is better than misery. Opportunities to enjoy family, friends, culture, and nature are better than drudgery and monotony.

All these things can be measured. If they have increased over time, that is progress.

Granted, not everyone would agree on the exact list. The values are avowedly humanistic, and leave out religious, romantic, and aristocratic virtues like salvation, grace, sacredness, heroism, honor, glory, and authenticity.

But most would agree that it's a necessary start. It's easy to extoll transcendent values in the abstract, but most people prioritize life, health, safety, literacy, sustenance, and stimulation for the obvious reason that these goods are a prerequisite to everything else. If you're reading this, you are not dead, starving, destitute, moribund, terrified, enslaved, or illiterate, which means that you're in no position to turn your nose up at these values – nor to deny that other people should share your good fortune.

And as it happens, the world does agree on these values. In the year 2000, all 189 members of the United Nations, together with two dozen international organizations, agreed on eight Millennium Development Goals for the year 2015 that blend right into this list.

And here is a shocker: The world has made spectacular progress in every single measure of human well-being. And here is a second shocker: Almost no one knows about it."

 - Steven Pinker, Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress (New York: Viking Press, 2018)

History of Progress

For most of human history, life was very difficult for most people. People lacked basic medicines and died relatively young. They had no painkillers, and people with ailments spent much of their lives in agonizing pain. Entire families lived in bug-infested dwellings that offered neither comfort nor privacy. They worked in the fields from sunrise to sunset, yet hunger and famines were commonplace. Transportation was primitive, and most people never traveled beyond their native villages or nearest towns. Ignorance and illiteracy were rife. The “good old days” were, by and large, very bad for the great majority of humankind.

Average global life expectancy at birth hovered around 30 years from the Upper Paleolithic to 1900. Even in the richest countries, such as those of Western Europe, life expectancy at the start of the 20th century rarely exceeded 50 years. Incomes were quite stagnant, too. At the beginning of the Common Era (CE), annual GDP per person around the world ranged from $600 to $800. As late as 1820, it was only $712 (measured in 1990 international dollars).

Humanity has made enormous progress—especially over the course of the past two centuries. For example, average life expectancy in the world today is almost 72 years. In 2010, global GDP per person stood at $7,814—over 10 times more than two centuries ago (measured in 1990 international dollars).

It is not only income and life expectancy that are improving. Steven Pinker, professor of psychology at Harvard University, has noted a propitious decline in physical violence. As Pinker writes

Tribal warfare was nine times as deadly as war and genocide in the 20th century. The murder rate in medieval Europe was more than thirty times what it is today. Slavery, sadistic punishments, and frivolous executions were unexceptionable features of life for millennia, then were suddenly abolished. Wars between developed countries have vanished, and even in the developing world, wars kill a fraction of the numbers they did a few decades ago. Rape, hate crimes, deadly riots, child abuse—all substantially down.

If anything, the speed of human progress seems to be accelerating. As Charles Kenny of the Center for Global Development writes,

4.9 billion people—the considerable majority of the planet—[live] . . . in countries where GDP [gross domestic product] has increased more than fivefold over 50 years. Those countries include India, with an economy nearly 10 times larger than it was in 1960, Indonesia (13 times), China (17 times), and Thailand (22 times larger than in 1960). And 5.1 billion people live in countries where we know incomes have more than doubled since 1960, and 4.1 billion—well more than half the planet—live in countries where average incomes have tripled or more . . . .

According to a 2011 paper by Brookings Institution researchers Laurence Chandy and Geoffrey Gertz,

[The] rise of emerging economies has led to a dramatic fall in global poverty . . .  [The authors] estimate that between 2005 and 2010, the total number of poor people around the world fell by nearly half a billion, from over 1.3 billion in 2005 to under 900 million in 2010. Poverty reduction of this magnitude is unparalleled in history: never before have so many people been lifted out of poverty over such a brief period of time.

Similarly, the world’s daily caloric intake per person has increased from an average of 2,264 in 1961 to 2,850 in 2013. In Sub-Saharan Africa, the caloric intake increased from 2,001 to 2,448 over the same time period. To put these figures in perspective, the U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends that moderately active adult men consume between 2,200 and 2,800 calories a day and moderately active women consume between 1,800 and 2,000 calories a day.

The internet, cell phones, and air travel are connecting ever more people—even in poor countries. More children, including girls, attend schools at all levels of education. There are more women holding political office and more female CEOs (chief executive officers). In wealthy countries, the wage gap between genders is declining. Our lives are not only longer, but also healthier. The global prevalence rate of people infected with HIV/AIDS (human immunodeficiency virus infection and acquired immune deficiency syndrome) has been stable since 2001 and deaths from the disease are declining because of the increasing availability of anti-retroviral drugs. In wealthy countries, most cancer rates have started to fall. That is quite an accomplishment considering that people are living much longer and the risk of cancer increases with longevity. In parts of the world, dwellings are growing ever larger. Workers tend to work fewer hours and suffer from fewer injuries. That’s especially true in developed countries, like the United States. Shops are bursting with a mind-boggling array of goods that are, normally, less expensive and of higher quality than in the past. We enjoy more leisure and travel to more exotic destinations.

Is everything getting better? Not exactly. In recent years, the world has witnessed a sustained attack on political and economic freedoms, as well as freedoms of religion and free expression. Considering that human freedom is an integral part of human progress, these worrying developments are worth bearing in mind. 

Progress Is Not Linear

Unfortunately, progress is not linear. Europe, for example, experienced an unprecedented period of peace and rapidly improving standards of living between the conclusion of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815 and the outbreak of World War I in 1914. Between 1820 and 1914, real or inflation-adjusted GDP per person rose by 127 percent in Western Europe. In Great Britain, for example, life expectancy at birth rose from 41 years 1818 to 53 years in 1914. In Sweden, the improvement was even more dramatic, with life expectancy rising from 39 years in 1814 to 58 years in 1914.

The period between the start of the 20th century and the outbreak of World War I saw the introduction of such life-changing technologies as the radio, the vacuum cleaner, air conditioning, the neon light, the airplane, sonar, the first plastics, the Ford Model T automobile, and cornflakes.

As a result of World War I, which raged between 1914 and 1918 and killed some 16 million people, per-person GDP in Western Europe fell by 11 percent between 1916 and 1919. Life expectancy in Great Britain, one of the war’s main participants, dropped from 53 years in 1914 to 47 years in 1918. Other horrors followed.

The devastation of World War I undermined the Russian monarchy, leading to the rise of communism and the establishment of the USSR. Globally, some 100 million people died because of purges and socialist economic mismanagement in communist countries. Defeat in World War I and harsh reparation demands led to resentment in Germany. That contributed to the rise of National Socialism (Nazism), the outbreak of World War II, and the subsequent Holocaust. Some 73 million people died in World War II. After the war ended, communist dictatorships and free-market democracies fought in a variety of proxy conflicts as part of the Cold War, including the Korean War and the Vietnam War.

In spite of all that suffering, humanity rebounded. New technologies were introduced. They included the microwave oven, the mobile phone, the transistor, the video recorder, the credit card, the television, solar cellsoptic fibermicrochipslasers, the calculator, fuel cells, the World Wide Web, and the computer. Medical advances included penicillincortisone; the pacemakerartificial hearts; the MRI scanHIV protease inhibitor; and vaccines for hepatitissmallpox, and polio.

Over the course of the 20th century, the GDP of an average Western European rose by 517 percent. For life expectancy, a typical Frenchman could expect to live 34 years longer in 1999 than in 1900.

The United States escaped much of the devastation of the two world wars, but suffered the Great Depression and carried many of the burdens of the Cold War. Between 1929 and 1933, for example, the average U.S. GDP per person declined by 31 percent. It was not until 1940 that it returned to its pre-Depression levels. Over the course of the 20th century, however, average American GDP per person rose by 581 percent and life expectancy by 28 years.

In Asia, average GDP per person rose by 96 percent between 1913 and 1999. Over the same time period, Chinese GDP per person rose by 473 percent and Indian by 173 percent. In China, life expectancy rose from 32 years in 1930 to 71 years in 1999—an increase of 39 years. Indian life expectancy increased from 24 years in 1901 to 61 years in 1999—an increase of 37 years.

The story of Africa is more complex, but still, on balance, positive. Between the time of the European colonization in 1870 and African independence in 1960, a typical inhabitant of the African continent saw his or her GDP rise by 63 percent. Per-person GDP increased by a further 41 percent between 1960 and 1999. Whereas Africa had underperformed relative to the rest of the world, Africans were better off at the end of the 20th century than they were at the beginning. Moreover, since the start of the new millennium, Africa has been making up for lost time. According to the World Bank, average per-person GDP in Sub-Saharan Africa rose by 38 percent between 2001 and 2016.

When it comes to life expectancy, Africa has experienced much progress. However, increases in life expectancy vary, depending on the harm caused by the spread of AIDS. Life expectancy in hard-hit South Africa, for example, rose from 45 years in 1950 to an all-time high of 62 years in 1990. It dropped to 53 years in 2005, before rebounding to 62 years in 2015.

Progress Is Not Inevitable

When reflecting on the world today, it is important to keep human development in proper perspective. The present, for all of its imperfections, is a vast improvement on the past. Understanding and appreciating the progress that humanity has made does not mean that we stop trying to make the future even better than the present. As the University of Oxford philosopher Isaiah Berlin once wrote, "The children have obtained what their parents and grandparents longed for—greater freedom, greater material welfare, a juster society: but the old ills are forgotten, and the children face new problems, brought about by the very solutions of the old ones, and these, even if they can in turn be solved, generate new situations, and with them new requirements—and so on, forever—and unpredictably."

That said, we should avoid making two mistakes. First, we should correctly identify, preserve, and expand those policies and institutions that made human progress possible. If we misidentify the causes of human progress, we could put the well-being of future generations at risk. One way of avoiding serious policy mistakes in the future is to avoid concentrating power in a single pair of hands or in the hands of a small elite. Instead, we should trust in the choices made by free-acting individuals. No doubt, some of those individual choices will turn out to be bad, but the aggregate wisdom of millions of free-acting individuals is more likely to be correct than incorrect.

Second, we should beware of utopian idealism. Utopians compare the present with, so to speak, future perfect, not past imperfect. Instead of seeing the present as a vast improvement on the past, they see the present as failing to live up to some sort of an imagined utopia. Unfortunately, the world will never be a perfect place because the human beings who inhabit it are themselves imperfect. Today, it is difficult to imagine the emergence of a powerful new utopian movement. But few people in 1900 foresaw the destruction brought on by communism and Nazism. We cannot rule out that utopian demagogues akin to LeninStalinHitlerMao Zedong, or Pol Pot will emerge in the future.

Sources of Progress

When it comes to the standard of living, human history resembles a hockey stick, with a long straight shaft and an upward-facing blade. For thousands of years, economic growth was negligible (resembling that long straight shaft). At the end of the 18th century, however, economic growth and, consequently, the standard of living, started to accelerate in Great Britain and then in the rest of the world (resembling that upward-facing blade). What was responsible for that acceleration?

The Nobel Prize–winning economist Douglass North, for example, argued that changing institutions, including the evolution of constitutions, laws, and property rights, were instrumental to economic development. The University of Illinois at Chicago economist Deirdre McCloskey attributed the origins of "the great enrichment" to changing attitudes about markets and innovation. The Harvard University psychologist Steven Pinker contended that material and spiritual progress were rooted in the Enlightenment and the concomitant rise of reason, science and humanism.

Whatever the case may be, a confluence of fortuitous events allowed for the breakout of the industrial revolution and enhanced the process of globalization. Let us look at those two in greater detail. According to Encyclopedia Britannica, the industrial revolution was “the process of change from an agrarian, handicraft economy to one dominated by industry and machine manufacture.” It started in Great Britain in the 18th century and then spread to other parts of the world.

The technological changes included the following: (1) the use of new basic materials, chiefly iron and steel, (2) the use of new energy sources, including both fuels and motive power, such as coal, the steam engine, electricity, petroleum, and the internal-combustion engine, (3) the invention of new machines, such as the spinning jenny and the power loom that permitted increased production with a smaller expenditure of human energy, (4) a new organization of work known as the factory system, which entailed increased division of labor and specialization of function. . . . These technological changes made possible a tremendously increased use of natural resources and the mass production of manufactured goods. . . . There were also many new developments in nonindustrial spheres, including the following: (1) agricultural improvements that made possible the provision of food for a larger nonagricultural population, (2) economic changes that resulted in a wider distribution of wealth, the decline of land as a source of wealth in the face of rising industrial production, and increased international trade, (3) political changes reflecting the shift in economic power, as well as new state policies corresponding to the needs of an industrialized society, (4) sweeping social changes, including the growth of cities, the development of working-class movements, and the emergence of new patterns of authority, and (5) cultural transformations of a broad order.

Not everyone was happy about the industrial revolution, however. Contemporary observers such as Charles Dickens commented on the squalor of 19th-century cities and the backbreaking labor of the people, including children, in the factories in much the same way that our journalists today comment on the squalor of the rapidly industrializing Indian cities and the backbreaking labor of people, including children, in Bangladeshi factories.

But things should be kept in a proper perspective. Life on an 18th-century farm was extremely difficult, and the city offered the former country dwellers higher wages and new opportunities. In time, sanitation, health care, and other benefits of civilized life caught up with the cities’ rising population, giving us the modern metropolis. In a similar vein, legislation caught up with rising standards of living and codified in law what already was happening in practice—as productivity increased and wages rose, fewer children were needed to supplement their parents’ incomes. Increased productivity of workers led to greater competition for workers, and factory owners started taking better care of their employees. Working conditions improved, and work injuries declined.

Another major criticism of the industrial revolution concerns the spoliation of the environment and exploitation of natural resources. In his famous 1808 poem Jerusalem, for example, William Blake bemoans the “satanic mills” (i.e., factories) that in his view pockmarked the bucolic face of the English countryside. But, as was the case with other writers of the Romantic era, Blake’s description of pre-industrial society was highly idealized. The reality, alas, was much less appealing. Most pre-industrial societies, Great Britain included, were heavily dependent on agricultural output. Agricultural production was labor intensive, but productivity was very low. Before the arrival of machines powered by steam and combustion engines, agriculture depended on much less efficient human and animal labor. People and animals had to be fed, which meant that most of the calories produced on the farm were immediately consumed by the laborers.

Before the industrial revolution, there were no synthetic fertilizers, such as nitrogen, and crop yields were much lower than what they are today. As a consequence, more land was required to feed people and pack animals. Land clearing was usually accomplished by the burning of forests. Yet more trees were cut down to heat houses and to cook food. Environmental damage aside, a major reason for switching from wood to coal was the simple fact that there were very few trees left. Thanks to the use of fossil fuels, global forest coverage has stabilized and is expanding in the world’s richest and most industrial countries.

Let us now turn to globalization, which the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development defines as “an increasing internationalization of markets for goods and services, the means of production, financial systems, competition, corporations, technology, and industries. Amongst other things this gives rise to increased mobility of capital, faster propagation of technological innovations, and an increasing interdependency . . . of national markets.”

Contrary to the common misperception, globalization is not a new phenomenon. The trade links between the Sumer and Indus Valley civilizations go back to the third millennium BCE. Then there was the Silk Road between Europe and Asia, and European voyages into India and the Americas. Clearly, trade has been fundamental to the process of globalization from antiquity. But, why do people trade?

Trade delivers goods and services to people who value them most. An additional ton of corn produced in Kansas may be of little importance to the people in the American Midwest, but it can be crucial to the people living in drought-stricken East Africa. Trade, to use economic jargon, improves efficiency in the allocation of scarce resources. Another reason for trade is the principle of comparative advantage. As the Nobel Prize–winning economist Paul Samuelson noted,

The gains from trade follow from allowing an economy to specialize. If a country is relatively better at making wine than wool, it makes sense to put more resources into wine, and to export some of the wine to pay for imports of wool. This is even true if that country is the world’s best wool producer, since the country will have more of both wool and wine than it would have without trade. A country does not have to be best at anything to gain from trade. The gains follow from specializing in those activities which, at world prices, the country is relatively better at, even though it may not have an absolute advantage in them. Because it is relative advantage that matters, it is meaningless to say a country has a comparative advantage in nothing. The term is one of the most misunderstood ideas in economics, and is often wrongly assumed to mean an absolute advantage compared with other countries.

Moreover, trade allows consumers to benefit from more efficient production methods. For example, without large markets for goods and services, large production runs would not be economical. Large production runs are instrumental to reducing product costs. For example, early cars had to be individually handcrafted. The Model T assembly line revolutionized car manufacturing and allowed the Ford Motor Company to slash the price of the Model T from $850 in 1909 to $260 in the 1920s. Lower production costs, in other words, lead to cheaper goods and services, and that raises real living standards.

Besides better resource allocation and greater specialization and economies of scale, trade encourages technological and cultural exchanges between previously disconnected civilizations. It is for those reasons that great commercial cities like Florence and Venice during the Renaissance, and London and New York today, also tend to be centers of cultural life and technological progress.

The development of the steam engine and the opening of the Suez Canal in the 19th century made seafaring faster and cheaper. The volume of traded goods greatly increased. Through the process of price convergence, prices fell and consumers benefited. The gold standard and the invention of the telegraph—and later the telephone—also allowed for massive transfers of capital. Attracted by higher profits, capital flowed from more developed to less developed countries, thus stimulating global economic development. As the British economist John Maynard Keynes recalled, before World War I,

The inhabitant of London could order by telephone, sipping his morning tea in bed, the various products of the whole earth. . . . He could at the same moment and by the same means adventure his wealth in the natural resources and new enterprises of any quarter of the world, and share, without exertion or even trouble, in their prospective fruits and advantages. . . .  He could secure . . . cheap and comfortable means of transit to any country or climate without passport or other formality.

This “golden age” of globalization ended with the outbreak of World War I and the concomitant disruption of world trade. By some estimates, globalization did not reach its pre–World War I levels until the 1970s or even 1980s. In fact, it was the 1980s that marked the beginning of the period of globalization that we live in today. Spurred by economic deregulation within countries, trade liberalization between countries, privatization of state-owned companies, further improvements in transport, and the arrival of the internet, globalization got a new lease on life.

The World Is Getting Better, But Skepticism Remains

As can be seen, Europe and America and, later, other regions of the world, experienced previously unimaginable improvements in standards of living. The process of rapid improvement that started in the early 1800s continues to this day. Accordingly, historical evidence makes a potent case for optimism. Yet optimism about the current state and future well-being of humankind is difficult to come by. As author Matt Ridley writes in his book, The Rational Optimist,

If . . . you say catastrophe is imminent, you may expect a MacArthur genius award [the MacArthur Fellowship or Genius Grant] or even the Nobel Peace Prize. The bookshops are groaning under ziggurats of pessimism. The airwaves are crammed with doom. In my own adult lifetime, I have listened to the implacable predictions of growing poverty, coming famines, expanding deserts, imminent plagues, impending water wars, inevitable oil exhaustion, mineral shortages, falling sperm counts, thinning ozone, acidifying rain, nuclear winters, mad-cow epidemics, Y2K computer bugs, killer bees, sex-change fish, global warming, ocean acidification, and even asteroid impacts that would presently bring this happy interlude to a terrible end. I cannot recall a time when one or other of these scares was not solemnly espoused by sober, distinguished, and serious elites and hysterically echoed by the media. I cannot recall a time when I was not being urged by somebody that the world could only survive if it abandoned the foolish goal of economic growth. The fashionable reason for pessimism changed, but the pessimism was constant. In the 1960s the population explosion and global famine were top of the charts, in the 1970s the exhaustion of resources, in the 1980s acid rain, in the 1990s pandemics, in the 2000s global warming. One by one these scares came and (all but the last) went. Were we just lucky? Are we, in the memorable image of the old joke, like the man who falls past the first floor of the skyscraper and thinks ‘So far so good!’? Or was it the pessimism that was unrealistic?

Ridley’s recollection raises an interesting question: Why are we as a species so willing to believe in doomsday scenarios that never quite materialize in practice?

In their 2012 book, Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think, Peter H. Diamandis and Steven Kotler offer one plausible explanation. Human beings are constantly bombarded with information. Because our brains have a limited computing power, they have to separate what is important, such as a lion running toward us, from what is mundane, such as a bed of flowers. Because survival is more important than all other considerations, most information enters our brains through the amygdala—a part of the brain that, as Diamandis and Kotler write, is “responsible for primal emotions like rage, hate, and fear.” Information relating to those primal emotions gets our attention first because, as the authors write, the amygdala “is always looking for something to fear.” Our species, in other words, has evolved to prioritize bad news.

As Harvard’s Pinker writes in his 2018 book Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress, “the nature of news  . . .  interact[s] with the nature of cognition to make us think that the world is getting worse. News is about things that happen, not things that don’t happen. We never see a journalist saying to the camera, ‘I’m reporting live from a country where a war has not broken out. . . .’” (p. 44). Consequently, newspapers and other media tend to focus on the negative. As the old saying among journalists goes, “If it bleeds, it leads.” To make matters worse, social media makes bad news immediate and more intimate. Until relatively recently, most people never learned about the countless wars, plagues, famines, and natural catastrophes that happened in distant parts of the world. Contrast that with the 2011 Japanese tsunami disaster, which people throughout the world watched unfold as it was happening on their smart phones.

The human brain also tends to overestimate danger because of what psychologists call “the availability heuristic.” Simply put, “people estimate the probability of an event by the ease with which instances come to mind. . . . But whenever a memory turns up high in the result list of the mind’s search engine for reasons other than frequency—because it is recent, vivid, gory, distinctive, or upsetting—people will overestimate how likely it is in the world. . . . People rank tornadoes (which kill about 50 Americans a year) as a more common cause of death than asthma (which kills more than 4,000 Americans a year), presumably because tornadoes make for better television” (Pinker, p. 44).

Another bias “can be summarized in the slogan ‘Bad is stronger than good.’ . . . How much better can you imagine yourself feeling than you are feeling right now? How much worse can you imagine yourself feeling? The answer to the second question is: it’s bottomless. The asymmetry in mood can be explained by an asymmetry in life. . . . How many things could happen to you today that would leave you much better off? How many things could happen that would leave you much worse off? The answer to the second question is: it’s endless. . . . The psychological literature confirms that people dread losses more than they look forward to gains, that they dwell on setbacks more than they savor good fortune, and that they are stung more by criticism than they are heartened by praise” (Pinker, p. 50).
 
Furthermore, good and bad things “unfold on different timelines” (Pinker, p. 44). Bad things, such as plane crashes, can happen quickly. Good things, such as humanity’s struggle against HIV/AIDS, tend to happen incrementally and over a long period of time. As Kevin Kelly, founding executive editor of Wired magazine, wrote, "Ever since the Enlightenment and the invention of Science, we’ve managed to create a tiny bit more than we've destroyed each year. But that few percent positive difference is compounded over decades in to what we might call civilization. . . .  [Progress] is a self-cloaking action seen only in retrospect” (The Inevitable: 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future, p. 13).
     
Clearly, humanity suffers from a negativity bias. Consequently, there is a market for purveyors of bad news, be they doomsayers who claim that overpopulation will cause mass starvation or scaremongers who claim that we are running out of natural resources. Politicians, too, have realized that banging on about “crises” increases their power and can get them reelected and may also lead to prestigious prizes and lucrative speaking engagements. Thus politicians on both left and right play on our fears—from crime supposedly caused by playing violent computer games to health maladies supposedly caused by the consumption of genetically modified foods.

Conclusion

By definition, a world that is populated by flawed human beings cannot be a perfect place. As long as there are people who go hungry or die from preventable diseases, there will always be room for improvement. To that end, everyone has a role to play in helping those in need. By focusing on long-term trends and comparing living standards between two or more generations, however, it is possible to observe much improvement. That improvement is not linear or inevitable, but it is real.

What People Say

“The eternally optimistic data nerds at the libertarian Cato Institute’s Human Progress project . . . highlight . . . fun . . . fact[s],” Christopher Ingraham, Washington Post.

“A fascinating new website . . . Its interactive maps and tables allow you to examine for yourself the ways in which the ‘evidence from academic institutions and international organizations shows dramatic improvements in human well-being,’” A. Barton Hinkle, Richmond Times Dispatch.

“Meticulously created and managed, HumanProgress.org is a free, innovative website that steadily follows and documents the forward march of human progress. This site closes the gap between the often pessimistic public perception and a more optimistic reality, and is a comprehensive research tool that provides data in an easily accessible manner,” Eric Barrier, Michigan Standard.

“Need some more good news? HumanProgress.org collects indicators that show that humanity is improving,” Uri Berliner, National Public Radio (NPR).

"Spend 20 minutes poking around HumanProgress.org for all the good news you can stomach," Jonah Goldberg, National Review.

“[HumanProgress.org] culls the best resources on development, health, and progress—and illustrates the massive improvements in our global economic, social, and cultural situation, despite the doomsayers’ drumbeat,” Tim Hains, Real Clear Politics.

“At HumanProgress.org, you will find a wide range of datasets and maps that allow you to discover how the human condition has changed over time. It makes me happy to commend it to your attention,” John Hood, Carolina Journal.

“Human Progress [is] dedicated to publicizing the gap between the reality and the perception of many measures of world well-being,” Peter Grier, Christian Science Monitor.

“Human beings have a glass-half-empty problem. . . . [HumanProgress.org] highlight[s] all the good stuff that gets lost in the chaos as we fret about our dystopian present and the looming apocalypse,” Meghan Neal, Vice.

“The data-driven site and blog curates data from third parties like the U.N., the World Bank and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. . . . Taken together, the charts and graphs on Human Progress show that humans are doing better . . . over the past century—from gender equality and violence to economic freedom,” Krithika Varagur, Huffington Post.

HumanProgress.org has also been cited by The Wall Street Journal, The New York TimesUSATodayThe World BankHuman Rights WatchWorld Economic ForumTimeBloombergForbesThe AtlanticScientific AmericanThe National InterestGlobal Policy JournalThe GuardianThe Washington ExaminerThe New York Post, SlateThe Washington TimesReason, The FederalistNewsweek, and Upworthy

It is recommended as a resource by many academic institutions, including the University of California at Los Angeles and the University of Chicago.

About Our Data

Human Progress does not produce its own data. All of our datasets come from reputable external sources (see Data Sources). When interacting with the data, users should be aware of the following:

Dynamic and Static Datasets

Most of our datasets deal with long-term global trends. For example, “Infant Mortality Rate per 1,000 Live Births” covers the period between 1960 and 2015 in almost 200 countries. We call these datasets “dynamic,” in the sense that they allow the users to interact with the data in a multitude of ways (e.g., to choose from a variety of visualizations, to pick different countries and regions, to select specific time periods, and so on). However, some datasets are less comprehensive (e.g., the price of U.S. airline tickets). These “static” datasets are still useful in documenting human progress, but they do not allow for much user interactivity. 

Interpolation of Dynamic Datasets

In most cases, the data from the original source are incomplete. Often, small countries lack data altogether. Even large countries tend to lack data for one or more years. To create more useful visualizations, Human Progress interpolates missing data (i.e., we construct new data points within the range of a discrete set of known data points). Those are always clearly indicated using an asterisk (*). 

Regional Calculations for Line Charts

Some of our original sources contain data for individual countries as well as regional data. Unfortunately, our original sources group individual countries in different ways, and that can be confusing. Furthermore, some of our original sources weigh their regional averages by the gross domestic product (GDP) or the population size of individual countries. Other original sources, however, calculate their regional values using simple averages only. 

To create a consistent user experience, we have scrubbed the original regional values from the original datasets and offer the user a bespoke system for regional calculations instead. Before continuing to read, please note:

Regional calculations are only relevant with regard to our line chart visualizations. They are meant to provide an indication of the state of affairs in different regions but should not be treated as authoritative. Regional values are created using a set of distinct criteria, and users dissatisfied with those criteria are encouraged to calculate their own regional values using a different methodology. 

To ensure greater accuracy of our regional values, Human Progress is programmed to generate regional values only when at least 75 percent of the population in any given region is represented by the underlying data. Please note that this is not the same as calculating regional values on the basis of at least 75 percent of the country data in any given region being present. 

To illustrate the above distinction, consider the example of the infant mortality rate in East Asia in 1976. The regional value for that year will only be calculated if a datum for China in 1976 is available. If a datum for China in 1976 is not available, the regional value will not be generated. The latter will be true even if data for all the other countries and territories in East Asia (Hong Kong, Japan, Macao, Mongolia, North Korea, South Korea, and Taiwan) are available because China accounted for more than 25 percent of the region’s population in 1976.

Regional Groups 

Our bespoke system for regional calculations allows us to group countries in any way we like. The users can see the names of the countries that make up a particular region by moving their cursors over the region’s name in the Country/Region selection box. Please note:

The tooltip is intended to show the names of countries that make up a particular region. However, datasets are often incomplete; the data for some countries that make up a particular region may not be available, and as a result the tooltip may not accurately reflect the names of the countries that in fact make up a particular region.

That said, most of our regional groupings will be familiar to the users, because they follow the long-established International Monetary Fund, United Nations, and World Bank methodologies. Those differing methodologies (e.g., the World Bank method) are always clearly identified. 

Finally, the users are urged to compare only regions that share the same methodology (i.e., a region based on the World Bank methodology should be compared with other regions based on the World Bank methodology).  

Final Note

Regional values are calculated only for data after 1950.

Our Data Sources

The Adecco Group

Airlines for America

American Enterprise Institute

American Farm Bureau Federation

Amnesty International

Angus Deaton, Princeton University

Angus Maddison, University of Groningen

Austrian Federal Ministry of Science, Research, and Economy

Aviation Safety Network

Benjamin Valentino, Dartmouth College

Brewers Association

Brookings Institution

Bruce D. Meyer, University of Chicago

Center for Systemic Peace

Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters

Charities Aid Foundation

Clio Infra

Conference Board

The Correlates of War Project

Daniel J. Ikenson, Cato Institute

Deepak Lal, University of California at Los Angeles

Discogs

Don Boudreaux, George Mason University

Earth Policy Institute

The Economist Intelligence Unit

Econweb

European Commission, Emissions Database for Global Atmosphere

Eurostat

Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

Fraser Institute

Freedom House

Gallup

Giving USA

Global Terrorism Database

Hans Kristensen, Nuclear Information Project, Federation of American Scientists

Human Freedom Index

Human Security Report

Index Mundi

Indur Goklany, the United States Department of the Interior

INSEAD, Human Capital Leadership Institute

Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre

International Agency for Research on Cancer

International Energy Agency

International Labour Organization

International Migration Database

James Sullivan, University of Notre Dame

 Jesse H. Ausubel, Professor, the Rockefeller University

Johan Norberg, Cato Institute

John C. McCallum, National University of Singapore

John R. Christy, University of Alabama in Huntsville

Jong-Wha Lee, Korea University

Journal of Development Economics

Maddison Project

Marcel P. Timmer, University of Groningen 

Mark Perry, American Enterprise Institute

Matt Ridley, journalist and businessman

Max Roser, University of Oxford

Maxim Pinkovskiy, Federal Reserve Bank of New York

Michael D. Tanner, Cato Institute

Migration Policy Institute

MusicBrainz

National Center for Biotechnology Information

National Data Archive on Child Abuse and Neglect

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

National Vital Statistics System

National Weather Service, U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Natural Resources Defense Council

New York University Development Research Institute

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development

Pew Research Center

The People History

Political Instability Task Force

Reason Foundation

Research Affiliates

Richard Alm, O’Neil Center for Global Markets and Freedom

Robert Barro, Harvard University

Robert C. Feenstra, University of California

Robert Inklaar, University of Groningen

Ronald Bailey, Reason Magazine

Sarah Skwire, Liberty Fund

Satellite Industry Association

The Soft Power 30: A Ranking of Global Soft Power

Space Launch Report

Steven Pinker, Harvard University

Transparency International

U.S. Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System

U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis

U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, National Crime Victimization Survey

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

U.S. Census Bureau

U.S. Census Bureau, Housing and Household Economic Statistics Division

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

U.S. Congressional Budget Office

U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service

U.S. Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service

U.S. Department of Homeland Security via STATcompiler

U.S. Energy Information Administration

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

U.S. Federal Aviation Administration

U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation

U.S. Federal Communications Commission

U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration

U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

U.S. Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance

UNICEF

United Nations AIDS

United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division

United Nations Development Programme

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization

United Nations Environment

United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization

United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

United Nations Integrated Implementation Framework

United Nations Millennium Development Goals Indicators

United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime Statistics

United Nations Population Division Department of Economic and Social Affairs

United Nations Refugee Agency

Université Catholique de Louvain

University of Texas Inequality Project

Uppsala Conflict Data Program

W. Michael Cox, Southern Methodist University’s Cox School of Business

World Bank

World Economic Forum

World Happiness Report

World Health Organization

World Travel and Tourism Council

World Values Survey

Xavier Sala-i-Martin, Columbia University

What We Read

Acemoglu, Daron, and James A. Robinson, Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty.  New York: Crown Publishers, 2012.

Ausubel, J. H., “Can Technology Spare the Earth?” In Current Perspectives in Geology, edited by Michael McKinney, Robert L. Tolliver, and Parri Shariff.  Boston: Wadsworth, 1998.

Ausubel, J. H., P. S. Meyer, and I. K. Wernick, “Death and the Human Environment: The United States in the 20th Century.” Technology in Society 23, no. 2 (2001): 131–46.

Ausubel, J. H., “Will the Rest of the World Live Like America?” Technology in Society 26 (2004): 343–60.

Ausubel, J. H., D. T. Crist, and P. E. Waggoner, ed., First Census of Marine Life 2010: Highlights of a Decade of Discovery. Washington: Census of Marine Life, 2010.

Ausubel J. H., I. K. Wernick, and P. E. Waggoner, “Peak Farmland and the Prospect for Land Sparing.” Population and Development Review 38, supplement (2012): 217–38.

Bailey, Ronald, ed., Earth Report 2000: Revisiting the True State of the Planet. New York: McGraws-Hill, 1999.

Barro, Robert J., Determinants of Economic Growth: A Cross-Country Empirical StudyBoston: MIT Press, 1998.

Barro, Robert J., and Xavier Sala-i-Martin, Economic Growth. Boston: MIT Press, 2003.

Bauer, Peter, From Subsistence to Exchange. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2000.

Baumol, William J., The Free-Market Innovation Machine: Analyzing the Growth Miracle of CapitalismPrinceton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2003.

Beinhocker, Eric, The Origin of Wealth: The Radical Remaking of Economics and What It Means for Business and Society. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Business Review Press, 2007.

Bhagwati, Jagdish N., In Defense of Globalization. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2004.

Bhalla, Surjit S., Imagine There’s No Country: Poverty Inequality and Growth in the Era of Globalization. Washington, DC: Peterson Institute, 2002.

Borlaug, Norman E., “Ending World Hunger. The Promise of Biotechnology and the Threat of Antiscience Zealotry.” Plant Physiology 124, no. 2 (2000): 487–90.

Bradley Jr., Robert L., Energy: The Master Resource. Dubuque, IA: Kendall-Hall Publishing, 2004.

Brand, Stewart, Whole Earth Discipline: Why Dense Cities, Nuclear Power, Transgenic Crops, Restored Wildlands, and Geoengineering Are NecessaryNew York: Viking, 2009.

Briggs, Asa, The Age of Improvement, 1783–1867. New York: Routledge, 1959.

Brinkley, Douglas, Wheels for the World: Henry Ford, His Company, and a Century of ProgressNew York: Viking, 2004.

Bryce, Robert, Smaller, Faster, Lighter, Denser, Cheaper: How Innovation Keeps Proving the Catastrophists WrongNew York: Public Affairs, 2014.

Bury, John Bagnell, The Idea of Progress: An Inquiry into Its Origin and GrowthLondon: Macmillan, 1920.

Connelly, Matthew, Fatal Misconception: The Struggle to Control World PopulationCambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2010.

Cox, Michael W., and Richard Alm, Myths of Rich And Poor: Why We’re Better Off Than We ThinkNew York: Basic Books, 2000.

Deaton, Angus, The Great Escape: Health, Wealth and the Origins of InequalityPrinceton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2013.

De Long, J. Bradford, Cornucopia: Increasing Wealth in the Twentieth Century. Manuscript, 2000.

Diamandis, Peter, and Steven Kotler, Abundance: The Future Is Better than You Think. New York: Free Press, 2012.

De Soto, Hernando, The Mystery of Capital: Why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and Fails Everywhere ElseNew York: Basic Books, 2000.

Easterbrook, Gregg, The Progress Paradox: How Life Gets Better While People Feel WorseNew York: Random House, 2004.

Easterlin, Richard A., Growth Triumphant: The Twenty-First Century in Historical PerspectiveAnn Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1996.

Easterly, William R., The Elusive Quest for Growth: Economists’ Adventures and Misadventures in the Tropics. Boston: MIT Press, 2002.

Emmott, Bill, “On the Yellow Brick Road: Survey of the 20th Century.” The Economist, Sept. 9, 1999.

Findlay, Ronald, and Kevin H. O’Rourke, Power and Plenty: Trade, War, and the World Economy in the Second MillenniumPrinceton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2009.

Fitzgibbons, Athol, Adam Smith’s System of Liberty, Wealth, and Virtue: The Moral and Political Foundations of The Wealth of NationsOxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 1995.

Fogel, Robert William, The Escape from Hunger and Premature Death, 1700–2100: Europe, America, and the Third World. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2004.

Gwartney, James, Lawson, Robert, and Hall, Joshua, Economic Freedom of the World. Vancouver: Fraser Institute, 2013.

Friedel, Robert, A Culture of Improvement: Technology and the Western Millennium. Boston: MIT Press, 2010.

Friedman, Benjamin, The Moral Consequences of Economic Growth. New York: Vintage, 2006.

Goklany, Indur, “Saving Habitat and Conserving Biodiversity on a Crowded Planet.” Bio-Science 48, no. 11 (1998): 941–53.

Goklany, Indur, Economic Growth and the State of Humanity. Bozeman, MT: Political Economy Research Center, 2001.

Goklany, Indur, The Improving State of the World: Why We’re Living Longer, Healthier, More Comfortable Lives on a Cleaner PlanetWashington, DC: Cato Institute, 2007.

Herman, Arthur, The Idea of Decline in Western HistoryNew York: Free Press, 2007.

Herman, Kahn, and Anthony J. Wiener, The Year 2000: a Framework for Speculation on the Next Thirty-Three YearsLondon: Macmillan, 1968.

Hesser, Leon, The Man Who Fed the World: Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Norman Borlaug and His Battle to End World Hunger. Dallas, TX: Durban House, 2006.

Huber, Peter, and Mark P. Mills, The Bottomless Well: The Twilight of Fuel, the Virtue of Waste, and Why We Will Never Run Out of EnergyNew York: Basic Books, 2006.

Jones, Eric, The European Miracle: Environments, Economies and Geopolitics in the History of Europe and Asia. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2003.

Keeley, Lawrence H., War Before Civilization: The Myth of the Peaceful SavageOxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 1997.

Kenny, Charles, Getting Better: Why Global Development Is Succeeding—And How We Can Improve the World Even MoreNew York: Basic Books, 2011.

Kurzweil, Ray, The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology. New York: Penguin Books, 2006.

Lal, Deepak, Unintended Consequences: The Impact of Factor Endowments, Culture, and Politics on Long-Run Economic Performance. Boston: MIT Press, 2001.

Lal, Deepak, Poverty and Progress: Realities and Myths about Global Poverty. Washington, DC: Cato Institute, 2013.

Landes, David, The Wealth and Poverty of Nations: Why Some Are So Rich and Some So Poor. New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 1997.

Larsson, Tomas, The Race to the Top: The Real Story of Globalization. Washington, DC: Cato Institute, 2001.

Leadbetter, Charles, Up the Down Escalator: Why the Global Pessimists Are Wrong. New York: Penguin Books, 2003.

Lindsey, Brink, The Age of Abundance: How Prosperity Transformed America’s Politics and Culture. New York: Harper Business, 2008.

Maddison, Angus, The World Economy: Historical StatisticsParis: OECD Development Center, 2004.

Maddison, Angus, Contours of the World Economy 1-2030 AD: Essays in Macro-Economic History. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2007.

McCloskey, Deirdre, Bourgeois Dignity: Why Economics Can’t Explain the Modern World. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2011.

Mokyr, Joel, The Lever of Riches: Technological Creativity and Economic Progress. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 1992.

Mokyr, Joel, The Gifts of Athena: Historical Origins of the Knowledge Economy. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2004.

Myrskyla, Mikko, Hans-Peter Kohler, and Francesco C. Billari, “Advances in Development Reverse Fertility Declines.” Nature 460 (2009): 741–43.

Nardinelli, Clark, “Industrial Revolution and the Standard of Living.” In The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics, edited by David R. Henderson. Indianapolis, IN: Liberty Fund, 2008.

Nisbet, Robert, History of the Idea of ProgressPiscataway, NJ: Transaction Publishers, 1994.

Norberg, Johan, In Defense of Global Capitalism. Washington, DC: Cato Institute, 2003.

North, Douglass C., and Robert Paul Thomas, The Rise of the Western World: A New Economic History. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1976.

North, Douglass C., Institutions, Institutional Change and Economic PerformanceCambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1990.

North, Douglass C., Understanding the Process of Economic ChangePrinceton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2005.

Olson, Mancur, The Rise and Decline of Nations: Economic Growth, Stagflation, and Social Rigidities. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1982.

Pinker, Steven, The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined. New York: Penguin Books, 2012.

Pinker, Steven, Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress. New York: Viking Press, 2018.

Postrel, Virginia, The Future and its Enemies: The Growing Conflict Over Creativity, Enterprise, and Progress. New York: Free Press, 1999.

Pritchett, Lant, and Lawrence H. Summers, “Wealthier Is Healthier.” Journal of Human Resources 31, no. 4 (1996): 841–68.

Ridley, Matt, The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity EvolvesNew York: Harper Collins, 2010.

Rodrik, Dani, “Institutions for High-Quality Growth: What They Are and How to Acquire Them.” Studies in Comparative International Development 35, no. 3 (2000): 3–31.

Sala-i-Martin, Xavier, “The World Distribution of Income: Falling Poverty and . . .  Convergence, Period.” 2005 draft of a paper published in The Quarterly Journal of Economics 121, no. 2 (2006): 351–97.

Sala-i-Martin, Xavier and Maxim Pinkovskiy, “African Poverty Is Falling . . .  Much Faster than You Think!”  NBER working paper no. 15775, National Bureau of Economic Research, Cambridge, MA, 2010.

Siegel, Marc, False Alarm: The Truth about the Epidemic of Fear. New York: Wiley, 2006.

Simon, Julian, The Ultimate Resource. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1981.

Simon, Julian, The Resourceful Earth: A Response to Global 2000. Oxford, UK: Blackwell, 1984.

Simon, Julian, ed., The State of Humanity. Oxford, UK: Blackwell, 1995.

Simon, Julian, The Ultimate Resource II: People, Materials, and EnvironmentPrinceton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1996.

Simon, Julian, and Stephen Moore, It’s Getting Better All the Time: 100 Greatest Trends of the Last 100 Years. Washington, DC: Cato Institute, 2000.

Smil, Vaclav, Feeding the World: A Challenge for the Twenty-First Century. Boston: MIT Press, 2001.

Smil, Vaclav, Enriching the Earth: Fritz Haber, Carl Bosch, and the Transformation of World Food Production. Boston: MIT Press, 2004.

Smith, Adam, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations. London: W. Strahan and T. Cadell, 1776.

Tierney, John, “The Optimists Are Right,” New York Times Magazine, Sept. 29, 1996.

Williams, Austin, Enemies of Progress: Dangers of SustainabilityLondon: Imprint Academic, 2008.

Wolf, Martin, Why Globalization WorksNew Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2004.

Wright, Robert, Nonzero: The Logic of Human Destiny. New York: Vintage, 2001.

Yergin, Daniel, and Joseph Stanislaw, The Commanding Heights: The Battle for the World Economy. New York: Touchstone, 2002.

Contact Us

We’d love to hear from you! If you have feedback or would like to share a paper or an article you’ve written with our data, please send us an email at contact@humanprogress.org.

Meet Our Team

The Editors are responsible for the day-to-day operation of HumanProgress.org. The Board advises the Editors on the scope and quality of the data.

Marian Tupy
Editor
Senior policy analyst, Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity, Cato Institute

Chelsea Follett
Managing editor
Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity, Cato Institute

Jesse H. Ausubel
Board member
Director, Program for the Human Environment, Rockefeller University

Angus Deaton
Board member
Winner of the 2015 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences and Professor Emeritus of Economics and International Affairs, Princeton University

Deepak Lal
Board member
Professor Emeritus of International Development Studies, University of California at Los Angeles, and Professor Emeritus of Political Economy, University College London

Deirdre McCloskey
Board member
Distinguished Professor of Economics, History, English, and Communication, University of Illinois at Chicago

Johan Norberg
Board member
Author, lecturer, and documentary filmmaker

Mark Perry
Board member
Professor of Finance and Business Economics, School of Management, University of Michigan-Flint

Steven Pinker
Board member
Professor, Department of Psychology, Harvard College and Harvard University

Gale Pooley
Board member
Associate Professor, Department of Economics, Brigham Young University - Hawaii

Matt Ridley
Board member
Scientist, journalist, and businessman

Vernon Smith
Board member
Winner of the 2002 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences and Professor of Economics, Chapman University

Ian VĂ¡squez
Board member
Director, Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity, Cato Institute