October 17 was the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. And, indeed, there was much to celebrate.
The world is a much better place today than it was a short time ago. For this, we should thank our neighbors.
The data on global wellness is incredible. Between 1981 and 2013:
- The share of people living on less than $1.90 per day fell from 42% to 10%
- The world’s population increased by 59%
- Real average per capita income rose 59%
- In East Asia, extreme poverty has decreased from 81% to 3%
- In South Asia, extreme poverty has decreased from 55% to 15%
- Between 1981 and 2015, life expectancy rose 12%
- In sub-Saharan Africa, life expectancy rose 24%
- Between 1990 and 2016, infant mortality rates decreased by 53%
- In sub-Saharan Africa, mortality rates for children under five years of age decreased by 57%
- Between 1986 and 2015, the lower secondary school completion rate increased by 42%
- Between 1995 and 2015, the number of people using the internet increased by 3 billion
- Between 2009 and 2016, mobile and tablet internet usage increased from 1% to 50%
These dramatic improvements in health, education, and connectivity didn’t just happen. They aren’t natural outcomes.
Sure, advances in technology and medicine helped. Increased collaboration — public and private — has contributed.
But, as always, the real drivers of change are the many quiet, persistent people behind the numbers. These heroes are our neighbors — aid workers, doctors, teachers, inventors, entrepreneurs, and many others — and need to be elevated and celebrated. They are making make us healthier, smarter, and better connected.