The world has improved since 1900. Which data-driven article...
July 31, 2014 2:57 PM   Subscribe

I remember reading a fairly substantial and data-driven article that was published after 2000 in a major publication (economist, new yorker, etc) that discussed the overall improvement in the state of the world since the early 20th century.

It discussed changes in poverty, disease, mortality and other metrics as indicators of the overall positive and (importantly) incremental changes that have defined the last century.

I was having a fairly heated discussion regarding a current world conflict and wanted to point to it for reference. While gapminder does a wonderful job of displaying the data, the article had very well-thought out reasoning to explain the data. It had the tone of being written by an economist or jurist. My googlefu has failed me so I turn to you.
posted by palionex to Grab Bag (5 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I posted this to the metafilter a while back.
posted by bartonlong at 3:03 PM on July 31, 2014

I think you might be looking for Steven Pinker's Better Angels of Our Nature.

However, I also feel obliged by my training and my job to say that Pinker's is a poor argument (despite all those numbers! Ooh, numbers!). Pinker may be an important figure in psychology (or not--not my field) but in this book is floating arguments that everyone from Brad DeLong to David Harvey can tear to pieces.
posted by migrantology at 3:21 PM on July 31, 2014 [1 favorite]

2007: "What are you optimistic about?", editor John Brockman asked some of the world's leading scientists on his Web site,

By almost any measure -- greater wealth, better health, diminishing levels of violence -- the world is good and getting better. My only regret is that I am alive today because tomorrow will be even brighter.

Where to start with the good news? How about with the Big Kahuna: During the 20th century, life spans for the average American rose from 44 years to 77 as we tamed age-old scourges such as smallpox, malaria, polio and plague. [...]

Also, The Decline Of Violence by Ronald Bailey (more about the data and methodology, by Stephen Pinker whose book the article is based on).
posted by rada at 4:03 PM on July 31, 2014 [1 favorite]

This might not be exactly the article you're looking for, but along the same lines is the inspiring Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's annual letter. It did the rounds not so long ago,
posted by Lorc at 11:36 PM on July 31, 2014

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