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 B & E Collins Foundation, and William H. Donner Foundation.
Who We Are
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.
What Is 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?
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.
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, Interpolation of Dynamic Datasets, Regional Calculations for Line Charts, and Regional Groups. Learn more about our datasets and methodology by clicking the link below: