Human Progress

Human Conditions Improving at a Remarkable Speed

Over the last decade, GDP per person and life expectancy are up around the world while infant mortality and undernourished rates are down.

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On a number of previous occasions, I have written about the extent of human progress around the world, but the remarkable speed of improvements in the state of humanity should not go unnoticed. To that end, I have looked at some of the most important indicators of human wellbeing, especially in the poor countries, over the last decade (or, when the latest data is not available, ten years prior to the last data point). The results are encouraging and ought to give us reason for optimism.

1. GDP per capita in real 2010 dollars (2005-2015)

Global: $8,858 ? $10,194 or a 15.1 percent increase

Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA): $1,363 ? $1,660 or a 21.8 percent increase

India: $982 ? $1,751 or a 78.3 percent increase

China: $2,738 ? $6,498 or a 137.3 percent increase

2. Infant mortality (i.e., children under age of 1) per 1,000 live births (2005-2015)

Global: 44.3 ? 31.7 or a 28.4 percent decline

SSA: 80 ? 56.4 or a 29.5 percent decline

India: 55.8 ? 37.9 or a 32.1 percent decline

China: 20.3 ? 9.2 or a 54.7 percent decline

3. Life expectancy (2004-2014)

Global: 69 ? 71.5 or a 3.6 percent increase

SSA: 52 ? 58.6 or a 12.7 percent increase

India: 64.2 ? 68 or a 5.9 percent increase

China: 73.4 ? 75.8 or a 3.3 percent increase

4. Depth of the food deficit, kilocalories per person per day (2006-2016)*

Global: 129 ? 88.4 or a 31.5 percent decline

SSA: 172.4 ? 130 or a 24.6 percent decline

India: 152 ? 109 or a 28.3 percent decline

China: 128 ? 74 or a 42.2 percent decline

5. Undernourished persons, millions (2005-2015)**

Global: 884 ? 685 or a 22.5 percent decline

Africa (incl. North Africa): 159 ? 149 or a 6.3 percent decline

India: 233 ? 194 or a 16.7 percent decline

China: 212 ? 140 or an 81.1 percent decline

6. Undernourishment as a percentage of population (2005-2015)

Global: 22.5 ? 18 or a 20 percent decline

Africa (incl. North Africa): 26.2 ? 22.3 or a 14.9 percent decline

India: 20.9 ? 15.3 or a 26.8 percent decline

China: 15.8 ? 9.8 or a 38 percent decline

Obviously, the world is not a perfect place. As long as there are people who go hungry or die from preventable diseases, there will always be room for improvement. But, a realistic picture of the human condition should compare the imperfect present with a much more imperfect past (rather than with an imagined utopia in the future) and acknowledge the progress that humanity has already made.

*The depth of the food deficit indicates how many calories would be needed to lift the undernourished from their status, everything else being constant. The average intensity of food deprivation of the undernourished, estimated as the difference between the average dietary energy requirement and the average dietary energy consumption of the undernourished population (food-deprived), is multiplied by the number of undernourished to provide an estimate of the total food deficit in the country, which is then normalized by the total population.

**These are total numbers, which do not take into account population growth.

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27 responses to “Human Conditions Improving at a Remarkable Speed

  1. All the life expectancy numbers tell me is that humanity’s carbon footprint will continue to get worse not better.

    1. Yeah, and more people for Trump/Hitler to murder. It’s bad news all the way down.

  2. So what if life expectancy is up and infant mortality is down? All that means is that people live longer in inequality, and that more infants grow up in inequality! This is terrible! We must tear down the rich capitalist oligarchy! Then we will have equality! So what if the life expectancy and infant mortality trends will reverse? It is better to be equally dead than unequally alive!

    1. Didn’t Sloppy name one of his litter “Equality”?

      1. What do you think he is, some kind of commie Frenchman?

  3. Human Conditions Improving at a Remarkable Speed

    Hit’n’Run commenting conditions, however, continue to deteriorate.

    1. I say we rename this place South Sudan. Who’s with me?

    2. Yes. I haven’t been able to comment for a couple of weeks.

  4. How can this be? America is in the grips of such inequality and injustice that even the poorest parasites have flat screens and nice cars parked outside of their free government housing.

  5. It sure will be a glorious day when despair and stupidity are jockeying for the leading cause of death in humans.

    1. I think we are nearly there in the US, at least.

      People always act like it’s a terrible thing when things like accidents, suicide or drug overdose are leading causes of death. Those things are, of course, undesirable, but it seems to be that it’s a lot better to have things like that be leading causes of death than disease or violence. At least they are things the person doing the dying has some say in.

      1. First world problems.

  6. Item 4: Depth of food deficit.

    This has to be an unknowable number.
    How the hell do you measure +/- an ounce of rice consumed for millions of poor peasants in remote villages?

    1. Edward D. Wood, Jr.: Hey Cris, how’d you know we’d be living on Mars by 1970?
      Criswell: I guessed. I made it up.

    2. Same way they measure the other things, I guess.

      They aren’t counting every single infant who dies or getting the age of everyone who dies either. I don’t think it’s that hard to come up with reasonable ways to estimate such things overall for entire countries.

      1. Are you suggesting the science is settled?

        1. No. My point is that you don’t have to measure every ounce of rice consumed to get a reasonable estimate of how adequately people are fed for a whole country. The exact number of calories may not be perfectly accurate, but with consistent methods it should be possible to compare over time and among different countries.

          If people just decided that things that are difficult to measure are “unknowable” and gave up, no one would ever learn anything new.

          1. “If people just decided that things that are difficult to measure are “unknowable” and gave up, no one would ever learn anything new.”

            Yes, it’s better to claim to “know” things that cannot be properly measured. Most of your replies above are supporting my thesis.

            I am simply skeptical of these kinds of reports put out by the World Bank, whatever the fuck that is.

  7. And tons of people are still convinced that things are getting worse for poor people.

    Why is the idea that everything is going to hell so appealing to people (including leftists, libertarians, populist dickbags and probably lots of others)?

    1. Because it is an excuse to initiate government force against people they don’t like.

      1. That’s why many people push the narrative of doom. But doesn’t really explain why people are so eager to buy it.

        1. People believe the narrative they hear the most. It’s hard to “buy” something you aren’t offered.

          Just like you “bought” the ‘depth of food deficit’ number we discussed above.

    2. I think people in third world countries are definitely getting better off, and at great speed. People who don’t know this are just idiots.

      However material (monetary) improvements for industrialized countries have slowed to a trickle… AND several of the major “I’m at peace with the world” type things ARE getting worse for many. Like affording housing in the US. All the good jobs are crammed into a few big cities (Globalist central planning FTW!), which is driving up real estate in those cities to insane levels, which means even well to do people have trouble buying a house… Bigger TV, maybe a better car, and technically higher income after inflation than your parents = Better right? Well you might not feel like it if you can’t even afford to buy a house and start a family, which you may want to do. So it’s easy to see why with “important” things like housing, healthcare, etc becoming harder to attain for many that a few bobbles doesn’t give you the same sense of serenity, even if technically you are theoretically better off.

      Also for those of us that are politically minded (I think we can mostly agree on this website) the “world is going to shit” in terms of where many societal opinions are heading. Bigger government, insane PC culture, etc are all more terrifying to me than whether or not I make an extra couple grand a year now versus 5 years ago. Material goods do NOT tell the whole story, and on the non-material front I definitely think things are getting worse.

    3. I think people in third world countries are definitely getting better off, and at great speed. People who don’t know this are just idiots.
      However material (monetary) improvements for industrialized countries have slowed to a trickle… AND several of the major “I’m at peace with the world” type things ARE getting worse for many. Like affording housing in the US. All the good jobs are crammed into a few big cities (Globalist central planning FTW!), which is driving up real estate in those cities to insane levels, which means even well to do people have trouble buying a house… Bigger TV, maybe a better car, and technically higher income after inflation than your parents = Better right? Well you might not feel like it if you can’t even afford to buy a house and start a family, which you may want to do. So it’s easy to see why with “important” things like housing, healthcare, etc becoming harder to attain for many that a few bobbles doesn’t give you the same sense of serenity, even if technically you are theoretically better off.

      Also for those of us that are politically minded (I think we can mostly agree on this website) the “world is going to shit” in terms of where many societal opinions are heading. Bigger government, insane PC culture, etc are all more terrifying to me than whether or not I make an extra couple grand a year now versus 5 years ago. Material goods do NOT tell the whole story, and on the non-material front I definitely think things are getting worse.

  8. Is this the same Reason that just published this article….Poor White Americans Are Dying of Despair

  9. Is this the same Reason that just published this article…Poor White Americans Are Dying of Despair

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