A survey done with this question documented the very negative perspective of global development that most of us have. More than 9 out of 10 people do not think that the world is getting better.
Evidence from empirical data shows the opposite picture. On each of 6 vital indicators of human wellbeing, there has been dramatic improvements over the centuries to our present date.
The question is about how the world has changed and so we must take a historical perspective. And the question is about the world as a whole and the answer must therefore consider everybody. The answer must consider the history of global living conditions – a history of everyone.
The difficulty for telling the history of how everyone’s lives changed over the last 200 years is that you cannot pick single stories. Stories about individual people are much more engaging – our minds like these stories – but they cannot be representative for how the world has changed. To achieve a representation of how the world has changed at large you have to tell many, many stories all at once; and that is statistics.
The media focusses on single events and single events are often bad – look at the news: plane crashes, terrorism attacks, natural disasters, election outcomes that we are not happy with. Positive developments on the other hand often happen very slowly and never make the headlines in the event-obsessed media. The media does not tell us how the world is changing, it tells us what in the world goes wrong.
See interactive charts on each indicator in the tabs