Things are getting better – the world is already right on track towards an Eternal Blissful Life for everyone.

(Note: Unfortunately, I did not have enough time to write on this topic in the depth that I originally intended to. That’s why the following is mostly a collection of articles that support my claim that the world is improving and that there are good reasons to be optimistic about the future. I might write a lot more here in the future.)

In this article I try to convince you that the following quote from Barack Obama is very much true:


“If you had to choose a moment in history to be born, and you did not know ahead of time who you would be – you didn’t know whether you were going to be born into a wealthy family or a poor family, what country you’d be born in, whether you were going to be a man or a women – if you had to choose blindly what moment you’d want to be born, you’d choose now.” – Barack Obama, 2016


Just like the following dark world view of Donald Trump doesn’t resemble the facts very well:


“Mothers and children trapped in poverty… an education system which leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of all knowledge … and the crime, and the gangs, and the drugs that have stolen to many lives. … We are at outright war that is expanding and metastasizing. …. The blame for this nightmare may be placed on a global power structure, that has eroded the underlying spiritual and moral foundations of Christianity”  – Donald Trump


Many people have the impression that the world is getting worse over time. But, in the writing of Harvard Professor Steven Pinker, “this bleak assessment of the state of the world is wrong. And not just a little wrong – wrong wrong, flat-earth wrong, couldn’t be more wrong”.
Whether it’s life expectancy, crime rates, happiness levels, wealth or quality of life, just about every measurable indicator of “the good life” has been on the rise and shows no sign of stopping.


If you don’t belief it, I recommend you take this “Gapminder Test”, which measures how accurate your world view resembles the actual facts of the world:


I also highly recommend this Ted Talk by Hans Rosling on “How not to be ignorant about the world”.


Here is a list of articles that summarize my point well:

I also highly recommend Stephen Pinkers book Enlightenment Now – The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress, which also makes a compelling case that the world is improving over time.  While the book seems to be widely agreed on (most prominently by Bill Gates, who calls it his “favorite book of all time”, some also express some critique. You can read more about this criticism in the Wikipedia Article on the book (particularly if you look into the sources).

If not stated otherwise, all facts that follow are taken from this book.

Another book that might also be worth reading (though I have not read it yet) is this one:

Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World – and Why Things Are Better Than You Think.

What now follows is a list of links looking at concrete indicators of human progress and how they developed over time.

Life expectancy, health, sustenance, wealth and poverty

From the poorest places on earth to the richest, on the scale of centuries to the scale of recent decades, people live longer, healthier, feed better, and get richer everywhere ever since the beginning of the enlightenment.
Here is an interactive graph that shows live expectancy (which is strongly correlated with sustenance, health, and quality of life in general) and income of all countries over time:

Interactive Graph 1

Here you see income distribution of all countries over time:


Here you see Child mortality and Malnutrition over time (I did not combine those two for any special reason).
You can go to and check out many more interactive graphs like this yourself. They all show the same picture: The world is improving over time and the trend implies that it will continue to do so!
Famines are almost a thing of the past (even in the developing countries), even though they used to be very common, even in the richest countries, until 200 years ago. More on this here:
 A mere 45 years ago, 35% of the world were malnourished, in 2015 that number was 13%. At the same time the population increased by five billions!
Here is a graph that shows the fraction of people in the world (in percent) living in extreme poverty (defined by the World Bank as less then $1,90/day, adjusted for inflation taking 2011 as a reference point. (“Extreme poverty is defined as having less then the relative purchasing power parity of $1,90 in 2011”).   Sorry for the German- The y-axis says “percent” and the x-axis says “year”.
extreme poverty fractions
From 1993 to 2013 (in just 20 years!) extreme poverty went down from 33.3% of the world population (or 1.86 billion people) to “only” 10.7% (0.767 billion people). (Source: World Bank)
The World Bank plans to completely eradicate extreme poverty by 2030. Even if they are off by a view years – extreme poverty will probably be a thing of the past within my lifetime, allowing humanity to move on to higher-level problems!
However, not just poverty is declining. People who are merely “poor” (but not extremely poor) are also getting richer:
Also, check out this link on the eradication of multiply diseases, which is making great progress:
The plan is to eradicate Malaria by 2040. Malaria deaths have halved from roughly 800 000 to 400 000 people per year between 2000 and 2015 (the latest data point).
Governments all over the world are also spending an ever-increasing fraction of their expenditure on public health care and well-being of the poor:
The burden of diseases, measured in “Disability Adjusted Life Years” (or DALY’s) is at an all-time-low:


We are living in the most peaceful time ever! And the decline of war and war-related deaths has been steady over the past decades. If you don’t belief it, watch this talk:
Check here to see graphs of war-related deaths over time and similar stuff: (particularly descriptive is the figure in 1.6)
And yes, this is all true despite the ongoing war in Syria, which killed at least 250 000 people in 2016 alone. Syria is a tragedy, but a kind of tragedy that is happening decreasingly and tends to become less severe.

Crime & Safety

Crime rates of the world as a whole are at an all-time low. Looking at individual countries, crime rates are going down in almost every country of the world, from rape to homicide, theft or child abuse.
Homicides over time in different parts of the world:
Child labor, corporal punishment to discipline children, Bullying and physical fighting at schools, sexual violence against children, and Child marriage and female genital mutilation:
Terrorism is getting worse: However, since terrorism is responsible for such a small fraction of violent deaths, this does not distort the overall trend of a decline of violent deaths. (In 2015 in the USA, 44 people were killed in terrorism. At the same time 15 696 where killed in homicide, 35 398 died in motor vehicle accidents, and 136 053 died of all sorts of accidents.
The world is also getting much safer with viewer deaths from accidents or natural catastrophes. Check out the following:
There are also viewer people dying from flight accidents, road accidents, and all sorts of other accidents.  (link is for USA, but this is true for other countries as well). Read the book “Enlightenment Now”.

Democracy, Freedom and Equal Rights

The world is more democratic then ever, people on average all over the world enjoy more freedom and more equal rights.
The world has far viewer ethnic and racial discriminatory laws than it used to have. In 1950, half the world’s nations had these laws, but by 2003, that number was down to under one-fifth. And today women are allowed to vote everywhere except in Vatican Citty.
The conclusion: “Physical integrity practices have improved over time”, and the world enjoys more freedom of press (though this is still a big problem in many parts of the world), far less violence against minorities, and less racism.
Democracy is on the rise:


  • Environmental problems are grim, and climate change is very real, but these problems are solvable given the right knowledge.
  • This idea, that environmental protection is a problem to be solved, is commonly dismissed as the “faith that technology will save us.” In fact, it is a skepticism that the status quo will doom us — that knowledge and behavior will remain frozen in their current state for perpetuity.
  • A naive faith in stasis has repeatedly let to prophecies of environmental doomsdays that never happened. Overpopulation did not lead to mass famines, and resources refused to run out. None of the predictions in the 1972 bestseller the Limits of Growth did happen.
  • Again and again, environmental improvements once deemed impossible have taken place. Since 1970, when the Environmental Protection Agency was established, the United States has slashed its emissions of five air pollutants by almost two-thirds. Over the same period, the population grew by more than 40 percent, and those people drove twice as many miles and became two and a half times richer. Energy use has leveled off, and even carbon dioxide emissions have turned a corner. These diverging curves refute both the left-wing claim that only degrowth can curb pollution and the right-wing claim that environmental protection must sabotage economic growth and standard of living.
  • The world’s progress on environmental protection can be tracked in a report card called the Environmental Performance Index, a composite of indicators of the quality of air, water, forests, fisheries, farms, and natural habitats. Out of 180 countries that have been tracked for a decade or more, all but two show an improvement. Oil spills are going down, the number of protected areas is going up, the rate of extinction of species is going down, deforestation is declining, the ozone layer is expected to heal by the middle of the 21st century,
  • Like all demonstrations of progress, reports on the improving state of the environment are often met with a combination of anger and illogic. The fact that many measures of environmental quality are improving does not mean that everything is OK, that the environment got better by itself, or that we can just sit back and relax.
  • As countries get out of poverty, they start polluting more at first. But once they get rich enough, they start tackling environmental problems and things start improving again.
  • One key to accelerating conservation is to decouple productivity from resources: to get more human benefit from less matter and energy. This puts a premium on density. As crops are bred or engineered to produce more protein, calories, and fiber with less land, water, and fertilizer, farmland is spared, and it can morph back to natural habitats. As people move to cities, they not only free up land in the countryside but need fewer resources for commuting, building, and heating. As trees are harvested from dense plantations, which have five to ten times the yield of natural forests, forestland is spared, together with its feathered, furry, and scaly inhabitants.
  • Another friend of the earth is dematerialization. Progress in technology allows us to do more with less. Indeed, we may be reaching “Peak Stuff”: of a hundred commodities the environmental scientist Jesse Ausubel has plotted, 36 have peaked in absolute use in the United States, and another 53 may be poised to drop, including water, nitrogen, and electricity.
  • Climate change is a moral issue because it has the potential to harm billions, particularly the world’s poor. But morality is different from moralizing, and is often poorly served by it. It may be satisfying to demonize fossil fuel corporations, but that won’t prevent destructive climate change.
  • The enlightened response to climate change is to figure out how to get the most energy with the least emission of greenhouse gases. There is, to be sure, a tragic view of modernity in which this is impossible: industrial society, powered by flaming carbon, contains the fuel of its own destruction. But the tragic view is incorrect. The modern world has been progressively decarbonizing. When rich countries such as the United States and the United Kingdom first industrialized, they emitted more and more CO2 to produce a dollar of GDP, but they turned a corner in the 1950s and since then have been emitting less and less. China and India are following suit, cresting in the late 1970s and mid-1990s, respectively. Carbon intensity for the world as a whole has been declining for half a century.
  • The success of deep decarbonization will hinge on technological breakthroughs on many frontiers, including advanced nuclear technologies that are cheaper, safer, and more efficient than today’s light-water reactors; batteries to store intermittent energy from renewables; Internet-like smart grids that distribute electricity from scattered sources to scattered users at scattered times; technologies that electrify and decarbonize industrial processes such as the production of cement, fertilizer, and steel; liquid biofuels for heavy trucks and planes that need dense, portable energy; and methods of capturing and storing CO2.
  • Humanity is not on an irrevocable path to ecological suicide. As the world gets richer and more tech-savvy, it dematerializes, decarbonizes, and densifies, sparing land and species. As people get richer and better educated, they care more about the environment, figure out ways to protect it, and are better able to pay the costs. Many parts of the environment are rebounding, emboldening us to deal with the admittedly severe problems that remain.
  • We cannot be complacently optimistic about climate change, but we can be conditionally optimistic. We have some practicable ways to prevent the harms and we have the means to learn more. Problems are solvable. That does not mean that they will solve themselves, but it does mean that we can solve them if we sustain the benevolent forces of modernity that have allowed us to solve problems so far, including societal prosperity, wisely regulated markets, international governance, and investments in science and technology. Far from licensing complacency, our progress at solving environmental problems emboldens us to strive for more.
In my humble non-expert opinion, nuclear energy seems like a value friend that we should embrace in order to fight climate change and to ease environmental protection. This my view is based on articles like the following:

Happiness, Life-Satisfaction, Loneliness, Mental Illness

Indeed, the world is getting happier as well. I actually didn’t believe that myself before looking at the data. Check out the following articles:
Happiness and life satisfaction in different parts of the world over time:
Suicide rates remain constant or slightly declined:
Self reported happiness:

Technological Progress

From the number of digits in the largest known prime, to the number of people with access to all sorts of technologies like electricity, internet, smartphones, to Moores Law of exponential growth, technological progress pervades everything!


More people than ever enjoy longer education than ever:
educational mobility and inequality:
People are literally getting smarter: This is called the “Flynn Effect”. For some reason, IQ is rising all over the world.

Work & Life

People have more leisure time than ever, spent less time working or doing annoying work (e.g. household work), and spent an ever smaller fraction of their income on necessaries.
The “Human Development Index” (HDI), a measure that combines indicators of a long and healthy life, being knowledgeable, and having a decent standard of living, is looking good: