When the pandemic scenario has created a bleak environment for humanity, it becomes more important than ever to take a look at the facts that make us feel like the world is getting better.
The Woman Post | Catalina Mejía
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Hans Rosling, a Swedish physician, professor of global health, and lecturer is more relevant than ever in dispelling doubts about the great strides the world has made in various aspects of development.
In his inspiring book "Factfulness: Ten Reasons We're Wrong About the World–and Why Things Are Better Than You Think," Rosling claimed that human beings have an instinct for negativity, which he statistically demonstrated by distributing questionnaires in many different countries to test knowledge on development issues. The author describes the negativity instinct as our tendency to notice the bad more than the good. Although the book does not deny that there is still much room for improvement in the world, he claims that things have improved. As a way to overcome this negativity, he proposed statistics as therapy and effectively used UN statistics to illustrate that the world is actually much better than we think.
Let's look at some of the more encouraging trends that we ignore, due to the instinct of negativity, to see if they can help us paint a clearer picture of the world.
1. The rate of extreme poverty has been declining since 1800
According to Rosling, extreme poverty dropped dramatically. For example, in 1997, 42% of the population of both India and China lived in extreme poverty. By 2017 in India, the percentage dropped to 12% and in China, surprisingly, it dropped to just 0.7%. On the other hand, Latin America changed the proportion from 14% in 1997 to just 4%. Statistics illustrate how in 1997, 29% of the world lived in extreme poverty. You may be surprised that in 2017, the figure was 9%.
2. Life expectancy increased dramatically
Rosling and his colleagues state that in 1800 the global life expectancy was 30 years worldwide. By 2017, the average life expectancy of the world's population was 72 years.
3. The percentage of children who die before their fifth birthday has decreased
By 1800, 44% of children died before their fifth birthday. By 2017, the percentage was reduced to 4%.
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4. Child labor has decreased
Once again, Rosling illustrates that by 1950, the percentage of children between the ages of 5 and 14 who were working full-time and in poor conditions was 18%. By 2017, the percentage fell to 10%.
5. Emissions of smoke particles per person have been reduced
In 1970, the average of SO2 particles emitted per person was 38 kg and by 2017, the number was reduced to 14 kg.
6. The ozone-depleting substances used have been reduced
According to Rosling and his colleagues, by 1970 there were 1,663 tons of ozone-depleting substances used by humans, while in 2017 the number dropped to 22 tons.
7. The number of countries using the death penalty has decreased
In 1863 there were 193 countries that used the death penalty, while by 3026 the number dropped to 89.
8. The number of new HIV infections per million people has dropped dramatically
In 1996 there were 549 new infections per million people, while in 2010 there were 241.
So if you are feeling overwhelmed and depressed during the COVID19 pandemic, take a look at Hans Rosling's book "Factfulness," and your mood will definitely ameliorate as you look at the therapeutic statistics of how the world has improved. What are you waiting for to overcome your instinct for negativity with some encouraging facts about humanity and the planet?