He aquí las 26 tablas que de verificarse, estarían demostrando que, como dice Steven Pinker, a diferencia de como se percibe, las cosas van mejorando en la civilización. LLego a este punto desde la entrada anterior –Best Era in Human History–
Si les aburren las gráficas, al final de la entrada hay una charla en vídeo con Charles Kenny que también lo explica. (También le haré una entrada independiente).
26 charts and maps that show the world is getting much, much better
by Dylan Matthews on December 29, 2014
The press — and humans in general — have a strong negativity bias. Bad economic news gets morecoverage than good news. Negative experiences affect people more, and for longer, than positive ones. So it’s natural for things like Russia’s incursion into Ukraine or the rise of ISIS or the Ebola outbreak to weigh on us more than, say, the fact that extreme poverty has fallen by half since 1990, or that life expectancy is increasing, especially in poor countries. But it’s worth paying some attention to the latter factors. The world is getting much, much better on a whole variety of dimensions. Here are just a few.
Extreme poverty has fallen
This is probably the most important chart on this list. The extraordinary rate of economic growth in India and China — as well as slower but still significant growth in other developing countries — has led to a huge decline in the share of the world population living on less than $1.25 a day, from 52 percent in 1981 to 43 percent in 1990 to 21 percent in 2010. That’s a low bar for what counts as poverty, and some development experts are arguing we should be using a global poverty line of $10-15 a day instead, but that very debate is a sign of the tremendous progress made in recent decades.
Hunger is falling
This animated map shows the Global Hunger Index — a measure of undernutrition calculated by the International Food Policy Research Institute — across the world form 1990 to 2014. Red and orange countries have especially high levels of hunger and undernutrition, while green ones have lower rates. So it’s encouraging to watch the globe gradually get less red and more green over the past 24 years.
Child labor is on the decline
Any amount of child labor is too much child labor, and the pace at which it’s being reduced is not fast enough to meet the International Labor Organization’s goal of eliminating hazardous child work by 2016. But the rate of decline — one third reduction from 2000 to 2012 — isnontrivial and worth celebrating.
People in developed countries have more leisure time
Work hours in the US haven’t fallen much in recent decades, certainly in relation to Europe, but compared to the late 19th century, developed countries have much more reasonable work schedules today.
The share of income spent on food has plummeted in the US
One reason the huge amount of economic progress made globally in recent decades gets ignored is that living standards for the median American have been fairly stagnant. One exception to that pattern, however, is the fact that cheaper food has freed up Americans to spend more on other expenses. “Between 1960 and 2007, the share of disposable personal income spent on total food by Americans fell from 17.5 to 9.7 percent, and the share of income spent on food at home fell from 14.1 to 5.6 percent,” the USDA notes, and they’ve stayed at that low level since.
Life expectancy is rising
Globally, both male and female life expectancy increased by six years from 1990 to 2012, but the gains were highest in low-income countries, which saw an increase of about nine years for both men and women. There’s still substantial inequality between rich and poor countries; male life expectancy is 15.6 years higher in high-income countries compared to low-income ones, and female life expectancy is 18.9 years higher. But the gap is slowly closing, even as rich countries continue to make gains as well.
Child mortality is down
Child mortality has fallen by nearly half since 1990. If you look at developing regions, the gains are even more impressive. In east Asia, Latin America, and north Africa, the under-five mortality rate fell by over two thirds between 1990 and 2013, and in sub-Saharan Africa it fell by 48 percent.
Death in childbirth is rarer
Maternal mortality declined by 45 percent between 1990 and 2013, according to the World Health Organization. You can see the drop has been especially dramatic in African countries.
People are getting taller
This chart, taken from Gregory Clark’s A Farewell to Alms, tracks the height of male skeletons found in Europe across nearly 2000 years, and compares those data points to recent, more complete height data in the US and Sweden. For nearly two millennia, male heights were stable, but upon the advent of the Industrial Revolution, they began to shoot up. There are many determinants of human height, but nutrition and overall living standards are crucial ones. We happen to be living in the first couple centuries of human existence to see huge advances in living standards, which shows up in height data, among many other places.
More people have access to malaria bednets
Malaria’s still one of the world’s biggest killers, particularly in tropical regions. It’s treatable, but far more effective than treatment is prevention through insecticide-treated bednets. Access to those has grown substantially in recent years, as this chart from the World Health Organization shows. If you’d like to help buy and distribute bednets, the Against Malaria Foundation is a very effective charity doing just that.
Guinea worm is almost eradicated
Guinea worm is a nonfatal but debilitating parasitic infection, and as recently as 1986, millions of people got it every year. There is no vaccine or cure. Guinea worms grow in your body cavity, then work their way out of your body, often through your leg or foot. Once the worm’s exposed, it needs to be gradually coaxed out of your body in a sterile environment. If, to relieve the pain, you place your foot in water with a worm exposed, the worm will burst and send millions of larvae into the water supply. If people drink the water later, then they’re at risk of getting the worm too. But despite the lack of a modern medical treatment for the condition, it’s almost gone, due to a coordinated international eradication campaign spearheaded by Jimmy Carter and the Carter Center.
Teen births in the US are down
We don’t know exactly why the teen birth rate has fallen so fast — 38.4 percent annually between 2007 and 2013 — though as Sarah Kliff explains, there are a number of plausible factors. Everything from increased access to IUDs and Plan B to 16 and Pregnant probably played some role. But the trendline is dramatic and hugely encouraging.
As is smoking
According to Gallup, there was never a point in the post-war era when a majority of Americans were regular smokers. But all the same, we’ve come a long way from 1955, when 45 percent of Americans reported smoking in a given week, to 2014, when a mere 21 percent do.
Peace and security
War is on the decline
Less than a century removed from the World Wars, it can be hard for people to believe that war is on the decline. But in the long run, deaths from organized political violence are falling, as Steven Pinker’s The Better Angels of Our Nature details. “The rate of documented direct deaths from political violence (war, terrorism, genocide and warlord militias) in the past decade is an unprecedented few hundredths of a percentage point,” Pinker wrote in an excerpt in the Wall Street Journal.
It’s not just Pinker either: analysts like John Mueller,Joshua Goldstein, and John Horgan have persuasively argued that the end of war is in sight. “War is merely an idea,” Mueller writes. “Unlike breathing, eating, or sex, war is not something that is somehow required by the human condition or by the forces of history. Accordingly, war can shrivel up and disappear, and it seems to be in the process of doing so.”
Homicide rates are falling in Europe …
It’s not just interstate violence that’s declining. As research from criminologist Manuel Eisner shows, homicide in European countries has been on the decline for centuries. Eisner estimates that in the 1200s and 1300s, Europe had an average homicide rate of about 32 per 100,000. By the 1900s, that rate had fallen to about 1.4 per 100,000.
… and the US too
The US has historically been an outlier among rich countries, with an unusually high homicide rate. We still have a much higher rate than Western European countries do, but it’s been declining sharply in recent decades.
Violent crime in the US is going down
Of course, non-murder violent crime is also important, and it has been falling steadily in the US since the early 1990s, as part of the overall dramatic decline in crime rates.
We’ve rapidly reduced the supply of nuclear weapons
World nuclear weapons stockpiles peaked in 1986, and the period since then has seen a sharp decline in US and Russian stockpiles, and, thus, the overall global total. There have been some lapses in the international nonproliferation regime, with Pakistan and North Korea developing weapons, but South Africa and post-USSR Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine all voluntarily gave up their arms.
Government and social services
More and more countries are democracies
In the 1970s, autocracies outnumbered democracies by a considerable margin. Soviet bloc countries were uniformly dictatorial, but the US didn’t make democracy promotion a particular priority in the Cold War either, allying with a number of brutal dictatorships from South Korea to Chile to Greece. But after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Communist dictatorships almost all vanished, and most of the Eastern European ones were replaced with democratic systems. US-backed military governments in Latin America lost power, and a number of African dictators fell. The result was that in 2013, the average world Polity IV score — a measure used by political scientists to track the prevalence of democracy — was higher than it’s ever been.
More people are going to school for longer
We still have a lot to do to improve access to education, but even in developing countries like China and India, average years of schooling (standardized here to “equivalent years of primary education … using weights based on the earnings differential associated with years of primary, secondary, and tertiary education”) have been growing swiftly.
And literacy is, predictably, up as well.
Increased access to education has, unsurprisingly, coincided with increased literacy. A lot of progress has also been made by reducing racial gaps in literacy. In 1870, 79.9 percent of African-Americans aged 14 or older were illiterate, and by 1950 that number had only fallen to 10.6 percent or so. But by 1979, according toNational Center for Education Statistics data, the illiteracy rate was down to 1.6 percent.
The US unsheltered homeless population has fallen by nearly 32 percent since 2007.
Normally, one would expect the homeless population to rise during an economic downturn. But apart from an uptick in 2010, homelessness has declined in the US since the financial crisis. Better yet, the decline comes entirely because there are fewer unsheltered homeless people. The sheltered population ticked up a bit, but mostly, homelessness fell overall.
Moore’s law is still going
Moore’s law — the empirical observation, first made by Intel’s Gordon Moore, that the number of transistors on a chip will double roughly every two years — has fueled the extraordinary growth in computing power over the past half century. And while some analysts argue that progress will slow within the next decade (or that italready has), decades of exponential progress are extraordinary, even if the trend doesn’t continue — and optimists in the industry argue that it can.
Access to the internet is increasing
At this point, internet use is fairly universal in developed countries — which occurred very, very rapidly, as this chart emphasizes — and while it’s less prevalent in developing countries and the world at large, the trendlines are going in the right direction.
Solar power is getting cheaper
Climate change is the one big area where we’re not making progress, and things are getting considerably worse. There’s no sugar-coating that. One bright spot is the declining price of solar power, which is fueling a rapid increase in adoption. The chart here breaks down the price of solar panels between the cost of the actual photovoltaic modules they use to generate electricity and “system” costs, which Brad Plumer explains as “all the little steps along the way that are required to take a photovoltaic panel from the factory and put it on your roof.” The latter is getting cheaper, helping fuel the decline.
The video version