Human Progress

40 Ways the World Is Getting Better

The shape of human progress.


Koroleva Irina/flickr

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

NEXT: A Rogues' Gallery of Bad Forensics Labs

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  1. But?

  2. Third world shit holes are getting better at the expense of the first world whether it’s migration or direct transfer payments. Yippee.

    1. Something something non-zero-sum game…

    2. Zero sum game much? Your monicker prevents Rufus from entering this conversation.

    3. What a poor argument.

  3. The proximity of the rainbow photo and lack of coffee changed “World” to “Weather”. It was amusing for a moment to think about Reason’s take on the weather given how many of the writers hate the cold.

  4. “29. The amount of time women spend on laundry has dropped significantly”

    This one seemed oddly worded to me.

    1. Why, can’t you see how lazy women are getting?

    2. While the average amount of time men spend on laundry remains strong at 15 minutes a month

      1. That is clearly an outlier. I have not washed a damn thing in 5 years. Thanks Wify.

  5. But income inequality!

  6. I obviously didn’t read all the links, but just enough to brighten my day. Thanks for posting 🙂

  7. While it’s true that things have never been better for humanity, thanks to globalism and capitalism, I’m skeptical of item 3 on the list. No one has access to sound money now. Money used to be real metal. And item 4, more government indoctrination for the young, seems like a negative.

    1. In aggregate, any learning is a little better than nothing at all. I guess literacy is better the nothing even though they are brainwashing kids to worship FDR.

      The book “Three Cups of Tea” was a good example of how a little schooling is best even though many of the students were likely indoctrinated into jihadism, although mostly by force.

    2. Number 7 on the list was internet in classrooms, like my kid doesn’t spend his whole fucking day on it once he gets home. Why do we have to buy an iPad for every kid in every class? Why can’t those little bastards learn how to use a pencil? Fuck those mill levies!

  8. Clearly the only remedy to this is to sue Amazon for anti-trust violation.

    The tards are going to actually extort money from amazon because they keep providing tons of cheap shit with free shipping.

    A few innovating and smart companies have used what free market capitalism that has yet to be perverted and created the most convenient, information intensive, fast moving, and beneficial market the world has ever seen.

    leftists think these evil profiteers are bad for the environment because they have gotten rich off of it. The real problem in the world is leftist socialists and they need to be shipping to mars.

  9. Best thing I read today

  10. More years of schooling is a good thing? I would have been off working on a farm instead of being berated by teachers for 12 years. Even the teachers would have been better off…

  11. Come to think of it at least half of my graduating had no business being anywhere near books, how many miserable children were actually turned into bullies?

  12. Almost every one could be countered as being a bad thing.
    Surprised they waited until #17 to say it is good to be pandering to the mentally ill, rather than advocating treatment.

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