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Reasons to be Cheerful About the World

Courtesy of the invasion of Ukraine by the deranged Vladimir Putin, we are all swept up in another round of awful news. So, let's look at some of the things that give us reasons to feel good about the world.

When another crisis kicked off two years ago, the WHO foresaw the potential that negative news had to damage our mental health during Covid. “Find opportunities to amplify positive and hopeful stories,” it advised. Subsequent studies vindicated the WHO: endless doomscrolling was found to have contributed to people’s negative mental health during the pandemic.

To be able to digest and continue engaging with the ghastly news coming from Ukraine we need balance in our media diets. Put simply, it’s easier to confront the bad stuff when you know there’s good out there too.

That means, at the same time as understanding the problems that exist and the tragedies that are taking place, finding out about what is going right in the world too – which is plenty, by the way - is very important. Happily, you are an OGN reader, so get a regular diet of good news stories. Today, in this article, we thought we should pull out a longer lens to highlight some facts that show how much things have improved in the last couple of decades.

Since 1998, average global life expectancy grew by nearly seven years through 2019 (the last year of data available), while global GDP per capita rose by over 50 percent, even counting the 2020 recession. This means that a third of the increase in standard of living that human beings have ever attained – measured as income per person – was achieved in the last 24 years.

Extreme poverty decreased faster than ever, from 30 percent in 1998 to below 10 percent today. On average - for two and a half decades - over 120,000 people have escaped extreme poverty not annually, or even monthly, but daily.

Since 1998, global child mortality - the share of children who die before the age of five - was reduced by over half, from over 8 percent each year to below 4 percent. There are more children living today than ever, and yet five million fewer children die each year, says UNICEF.

The proportion of the global population with access to meaningful electricity jumped from 72 percent in 1998 to over 90 percent by 2019, while outdoor and indoor air pollution-related deaths fell by more than a million annually through 2017.

In the past two decades, almost every country in sub-Saharan Africa has made gains in female literacy. In 2000, the proportion of women who could read and write was around 46 percent; today, it’s close to 60 percent. Even more encouragingly, the literacy rate for young women aged 15 to 24 has soared to 72 percent, and is now just below their male peers.

When you zoom out, the overall trend of human progress is unmistakably positive.


It's more important than ever to spread the good news. Please tell friends and family about OGN Daily and share the good news around the world.


If you want to go back even further, you'll enjoy this extraordinary 4 minute presentation about 200 countries over the last 200 years by statistician Hans Rosling. The video was made in 2010, but still relevant!


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