Super Cities №10 — Our Heroic (Global) Neighbors

Brendan Hart

One Big Thing

Things are looking up — by any measure

October 17 was the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. And, indeed, there was much to celebrate.

The world is a much better place today than it was a short time ago. For this, we should thank our neighbors.

The data on global wellness is incredible. Between 1981 and 2013:

  • The share of people living on less than $1.90 per day fell from 42% to 10%
  • The world’s population increased by 59%
  • Real average per capita income rose 59%
  • In East Asia, extreme poverty has decreased from 81% to 3%
  • In South Asia, extreme poverty has decreased from 55% to 15%
  • Between 1981 and 2015, life expectancy rose 12%
  • In sub-Saharan Africa, life expectancy rose 24%
  • Between 1990 and 2016, infant mortality rates decreased by 53%
  • In sub-Saharan Africa, mortality rates for children under five years of age decreased by 57%
  • Between 1986 and 2015, the lower secondary school completion rate increased by 42%
  • Between 1995 and 2015, the number of people using the internet increased by 3 billion
  • Between 2009 and 2016, mobile and tablet internet usage increased from 1% to 50%

These dramatic improvements in health, education, and connectivity didn’t just happen. They aren’t natural outcomes.

Sure, advances in technology and medicine helped. Increased collaboration — public and private — has contributed.

But, as always, the real drivers of change are the many quiet, persistent people behind the numbers. These heroes are our neighbors — aid workers, doctors, teachers, inventors, entrepreneurs, and many others — and need to be elevated and celebrated. They are making make us healthier, smarter, and better connected.

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