These 6 Charts Show How the World is Improving
View the high resolution version of today’s graphic by clicking here.
It only takes a few minutes of cable news to get the feeling that the world is heading into a tailspin.
Endless images of homicide investigations, natural disasters, car crashes, and drug busts fill the airwaves on a daily basis. It’s upsetting – but also certainly captivating for the average viewer.
In fact, the news cycle thrives on fear and violence, so mainstream networks find a way to fill up 99% of programming with these singular events. It’s addicting and sometimes anger-inducing, but is it representative of what’s really going on in the world?
Good News Happens Slowly
Today’s infographic comes to us from economist Max Roser of Our World in Data, and it highlights six megatrends that show that in many important ways, our world is improving drastically.
The one commonality of these six indicators? They all happen slowly and incrementally, but are more evident with a long-term perspective.
Each family lifted out of poverty, each classroom that gets built, and each village gaining access to basic vaccinations may not seem significant on a scale of billions of people – but over decades, these gains add up to create a richer, more educated, and healthier world and a very powerful statistical story.
Six Global Trends
Here are the six big picture trends pointed out by Roser, using data collected over hundreds of years:
1. Extreme Poverty
The portion of people in extreme poverty – making less than $1.90 per day – has dropped like a rock over the years. Back in 1940, about 75% of the world was in extreme poverty – today, that number is just 10%.
The most potent recent example of this is China, where access to free markets have enabled 700 million people to be lifted out of poverty in just over 20 years.
It’s also worth mentioning that statistics for this category are done using inflation-adjusted international dollars, which take into account inflation over time as well as exchange rates. Non-monetary forms of income are also included in the calculations.
2. Basic Education
In 1820, only a privileged few were able to get basic schooling. Since then, millions of classrooms and schools have been added around the globe, and the numbers are staggering. In relative terms, we’ve gone from 17% of people having a basic education to 86% today.
Here’s a more detailed breakdown of this, also from Our World in Data:
Following a similar trend line as basic education, literacy has risen from 12% to 85% over roughly two hundred years. In absolute terms, these numbers are even more impressive. In the 1820s, there were only about 100 million people that could read that were 15 years or older. Today, the number stands at 4.6 billion.
While the world has been having some short-term setbacks when it comes to freedom and democracy, the overall trend line is still impressive over the long run.
In 1900, only 1 in 100 people worldwide lived in a democracy – and today, the majority (56 in 100) can say they live in a country with free and fair elections.
Vaccinations for diseases like whopping cough, tetanus, and diphtheria were unavailable for most of the 200 year chart. However, today around 86% of people globally are vaccinated against these basic and devastating illnesses.
6. Child Mortality
Even as far back as 1920, it used to be that over 30% of infants would die before they hit their 5th birthday.
Since then, developments in housing, sanitation, science, and medicine have made it so that death is a much rarer occurrence for the youngest people in our society. Today, on a global basis, child mortality has been reduced to 4%.
Ranking the World’s Most Populous Cities, Over 500 Years of History
This two-minute animation shows changes in the last 500 years of historical rankings for the world’s 10 most populous cities.
Animation: The Most Populous Cities, Over 500 Years
What do Beijing, Tokyo, Istanbul, London, and New York City all have in common?
Not only are they all world-class cities that still serve as global hubs of commerce, but these cities also share a relatively rare and important historical designation.
At specific points in history, each of these cities outranked all others on the planet in terms of population, granting them the exclusive title as the single most populated city globally.
Ranking the World’s Most Populous Cities
Today’s animation comes to us from John Burn-Murdoch with the Financial Times, and it visualizes cities ranked by population in a bar chart race over the course of a 500-year timeframe.
Beijing starts in the lead in the year 1500, with a population of 672,000:
|Rank||City||Population in Year 1500|
In the 16th century, which is where the animation starts, cities in China and India were dominant in terms of population.
In China, the cities of Beijing, Hangzhou, Guangzhou, and Nanjing all made the top 10 list, while India itself held two of the most populous cities at the time, Vijayanagar and Gauda.
If the latter two names sound unfamiliar, that’s because they were key historical locations in the Vijayanagara and Bengal Empires respectively, but neither are the sites of modern-day cities.
The Million Mark
For the first minute of animation – and up until the late 18th century – not a single city was able to eclipse the 1 million people mark.
However, thanks to the Industrial Revolution, the floodgates opened up. With more efficient agricultural practices, better sanitation, and other technological improvements, cities are able to support bigger populations.
Here’s a look at cities in the year 1895:
|Rank||City||Population in Year 1895|
|#2||🇺🇸 New York||3,712,000|
|#6||🇷🇺 St. Petersburg||1,286,000|
In the span of roughly a century, all of the world’s top 10 most populous cities were able to pass the 1 million mark, making it no longer an exclusive milestone.
Modern City Populations
Finally, let’s look at the modern list of the top 10 most populous cities, and see how it compares to previous rankings:
|Rank||City||Population in Year 2018|
|#6||🇧🇷 Sao Paulo||21,698,000|
|#7||🇲🇽 Mexico City||21,520,000|
|#10||🇺🇸 New York City||18,713,000|
Interestingly, the modern list appears to be a blend of both previous rankings from the years 1500 and 1895 above.
In 2018, cities from China and India feature prominently, but New York City and Tokyo are also included. Meanwhile, Latin America has entered the fold with entries from Mexico and Brazil.
The Future of Megacities
If you think the modern list of the most populous cities is impressive, check out how the world’s megacities are expected to develop as we move towards the end of the 21st century.
How Different Generations Think About Investing
Each generation was shaped by unique circumstances, and these differences translate directly to the investing world as well.
How Different Generations Think About Investing
View the full-size version of the infographic by clicking here
Every generation thinks about investing a little differently.
This is partially due to the fact that each cohort finds itself on a distinct leg of life’s journey. While boomers focus on retirement, Gen Zers are thinking about education and careers. As a result, it’s not surprising to find that investment objectives can differ by age group.
However, there are other major reasons that contribute to each unique generational view. For example, what major world events shaped the mindset of each generation? Also, what role did culture play, and how do things like economic cycles factor in?
Finding Generational Discrepancies
Today’s infographic comes to us from Raconteur, and it showcases some of the most significant differences in how generations think about investing.
Let’s dive into some of the most interesting data:
1. Investment Outlook
The majority of millennials (66%) are confident about investment opportunities in the next 12 months. This drops down to 49% when boomers are asked the same question.
How did different generations of investors react to recent bouts of volatility in the market?
- 82% of millennials made changes to their portfolios
- 69% of Gen X made changes
- 47% of boomers made changes
- 32% of the Silent Generation made changes
3. Knowledge and Ability
In terms of investment knowledge, 42% of millennials considered themselves to be experts in the field. On the same question, only 23% of boomers could say the same.
4. Financial Goals
Back when they were 27 years old, 45% of Gen Xers said their primary goal was to buy a home. Compare this to just 23% of millennials that consider a home to be their primary investment objective today.
5. Managing Investments
The majority of millennials (66%) saw the ability to manage all aspects of personal finance, including investments, in the same app as being important. Only 35% of boomers agreed.
Similarly, 67% of millennials saw recommendations made by artificial intelligence as being a basic part of any investment platform. Both Gen Xers and Baby Boomers were more hesitant, with 30% seeing computer-based recommendations as being integral.
6. Impact Investing
Millennials are twice as interested in ESG (environmental, social, and governance) investing, compared to their boomer counterparts. In fact, the majority of millennials (66%) choose funds according to ESG considerations.
Reasons for Not Investing
While generations may have varying investment philosophies, they seem a little more in sync when it comes to having reasons not to invest.
|Recognize future outlook would be better if they start investing||72%||73%||57%|
|Want to try out investing with a low money commitment||35%||31%||25%|
|Afraid of losing everything||42%||29%||28%|
|Too worried about current financial situation to think about future||49%||46%||32%|
|Find information about investing difficult to understand||63%||59%||55%|
|Don't have enough money to start investing||55%||59%||56%|
There are some similarities in the data here – for example, non-investors of all generations seem to have an equally tough time learning about investing, and similar proportions do not believe they have the funds to start investing.
On the flipside, it seems that millennials are more worried about their financial future, while simultaneously seeing a risk of “losing everything” stemming from investing.
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