In a time when terrorism is rampant, where Iran is steadily gaining in international influence, in which North Korean communist dictator Kim Jong Il is celebrating his new nuclear weapons, and where people are being butchered in thousands in Darfur it’s easy to become depressed and assume that things are all developing in the wrong direction.
– Between 2002-2005, the number of armed conflicts in the world was reduced by 15 percent, from 66 to 56.
– Between 2002-2005, the number of battle-deaths was reduced by almost 40 percent (see graph below).
– In 1989 there were 10 ongoing genocides worldwide, in 2005 there was one (Darfur).
– The number of displaced persons declined by 6 percent between 2003-2005.
– Growth per capita in developing countries will be 3.1 percent annually, compared to 2.1 percent since 1980. (And this is a moderate estimate compared to the last five years´ 4.6 percent!)
– The average income in developing countries will more than double, from $4 800 today to $11 000 in 2030 (similar to the Czech Republic´s income per capita today).
– Developing countries´ part of global output will increase from one-fifth to nearly one-third, purchasing power will surpass half.
– Coutries like China, Mexico and Turkey will have living standards close to Spain´s today.
– The “middle class” (earning $4 000-17 000 per capita) in developing countries will increase from 400 million to 1.2 billion.
– Extreme poverty (< $1/day) will be reduced from 1.1 billion to 550 million - from 20 percent to 8 percent of the developing country population (it was 40 percent in 1980).
Poverty is shrinking (though not in all regions) and armed conflicts are fewer than before. While the problems in need of solutions are great, and the dangers of failure grave, those things are worth remembering. It’s good to be reminded every now and then, that in spite of things it’s also getting better.