Getting Better, IX: A Very Serious Possibilist

Hans Rosling helped us see the world's possibilities

The title of this post is from Hans Rosling, but it was like-minded Ben Carlson who listed 50 Ways The World is Getting Better on his blog, A Wealth of Common Sense. These are the most significant:

  1. Flying has gotten 2,100 times safer over the past 70 years. 2016 was the second safest year in aviation history. The odds of being fatally injured in a plane crash are just 0.000025%.
  2. Over the course of the 20th century, Americans became 96% less likely to be killed in a car accident and 95% less likely to be killed on the job.
  3. Since 1960, the fraction of a person’s life taken up by work has fallen by 25% through a combination of shorter workweeks, more paid time off, and longer retirements.
  4. Deaths caused by infectious diseases dropped from more than 37% in 1900 to less than 5% by 1955 and just 2% by 2009 saving the lives of more than a 100 million children.
  5. Between 2000 and 2015, the number of deaths from malaria (which in the past killed half the people who had ever lived) fell by 60%.
  6. The world’s nuclear stockpiles have been reduced by 85% since the Cold War.
  7. The literacy rate from the 17th to 19th century was just one-eighth of the global population. From that point on the world’s literacy rate doubled in the next century and quadrupled in the century after that, so now 83% of the world is literate.
  8. In 1820, more than 80% of the world was unschooled. It’s estimated that by the end of the century this number will be close to zero.
  9. In 1920, just 28% of American teenagers ages 14-17 were in high school. The high school graduation rate was just 9% in 1910. It jumped to 52% by 1940 and is 83% today.
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