News & Politics

We Work Less but Are More Prosperous Than Ever Before

We Work Less but Are More Prosperous Than Ever Before
Showgirl with money in her skirt (Image Source via AP Images)

Socialists and nationalist populists constantly pretend that life has gotten much, much worse the last few decades. You know, before “globalization” kicked in. Ever since, the masses have become poorer while the rich have become richer. Or something like that.


Well, there’s just one problem with that story: it’s 100 percent wrong:

One of my favorite Human Progress datasets comes from the Conference Board and deals with the decline in the amount of work over time. Globally, a worker could expect to work 2,227 hours in 1950. By 2016, however, he or she worked only 1,855 hours. That’s a decline of 17 percent.

Over the same time period, global inflation-adjusted income per capita per year rose from $11,578 to $24,400, or 111 percent.

Put differently, we are working less while making more money.

There’s more incredible data where that came from. For instance, over the last 25 years, access to clean drinking water has improved from 80 percent to 90 percent, representing a great rate increase:

Perhaps the most astounding figure: Life expectancy has rocketed.

The average life expectancy of human beings was a mere 42 years in 1960. Yes, that’s right — in 1960. But by 2015 that had increased to 68 years.


Here are two maps showing the increase from 1960 to 2015. As you can see, the entire world has become ‘darker,’ meaning that life expectancy has increased everywhere.

None of this means that there aren’t new, modern problems humanity faces. However, compared to previous generations, we have it extremely good. Fifty years ago, this would’ve been called “heaven on earth.” We can only try to imagine what our recent ancestors of 200 years ago would think if they saw us now.

It’s time for us to drop the cultural negativity about humanity, and to be amazed at our blessings.

We’re progressing. We’re improving. Life is getting better — much better. We should thank God every day on our knees that we are living in this day and age.

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