October 4, 2015

NO ONE HAS IT HARDER THAN THEIR FATHER DID:

The Most Important Thing, and It's Almost a Secret (Nicholas Kristof, 10/01/15, NY Times)

One survey found that two-thirds of Americans believed that the proportion of the world population living in extreme poverty has almost doubled over the last 20 years. Another 29 percent believed that the proportion had remained roughly the same.

That's 95 percent of Americans -- who are utterly wrong. In fact, the proportion of the world's population living in extreme poverty hasn't doubled or remained the same. It has fallen by more than half, from 35 percent in 1993 to 14 percent in 2011 (the most recent year for which figures are available from the World Bank).

Students in Harper, Liberia. The Liberian government and activists are trying to to enroll more girls in schools. Credit Ahmed Jallanzo/European Pressphoto Agency
When 95 percent of Americans are completely unaware of a transformation of this magnitude, that reflects a flaw in how we journalists cover the world -- and I count myself among the guilty. Consider:

• The number of extremely poor people (defined as those earning less than $1 or $1.25 a day, depending on who's counting) rose inexorably until the middle of the 20th century, then roughly stabilized for a few decades. Since the 1990s, the number of poor has plummeted.

• In 1990, more than 12 million children died before the age of 5; this toll has since dropped by more than half.

• More kids than ever are becoming educated, especially girls. In the 1980s, only half of girls in developing countries completed elementary school; now, 80 percent do.

Intellectual hostility to the idea of the End of History doesn't make it any less true.
Posted by at October 4, 2015 9:57 AM
  

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