The daily grind can be incredibly taxing. Getting up early, sitting in traffic, catching a bus, scarfing down a Pop Tart, and finally getting to work only to suck down coffee and try to stay engaged — it’s not exactly fun for the majority of people. But the truth is, you’ve got it pretty good. In fact, a life (daily grind included) in the modern Western world is greatly superior to 99% of all the lives ever lived. Sometimes it’s just hard to keep that in perspective.
Well, some new figures from the World Bank should help.
According to forecasts, global poverty is set to fall below 10% for the first time ever. And, on top of that, it looks like we may be able to end poverty altogether by 2030, if the dominoes fall in the right places. We have unprecedented economic growth to thank for these milestones.
“The World Bank projects that global poverty will have fallen from 902 million people or 12.8 per cent of the global population in 2012 to 702 million people, or 9.6 per cent of the global population, this year,” reads a corresponding press release.
“This is the best story in the world today — these projections show us that we are the first generation in human history that can end extreme poverty,’’ Jim Yong Kim, president of the World Bank, said per the same release. “It will be extraordinarily hard, especially in a period of slower global growth, volatile financial markets, conflicts, high youth unemployment, and the growing impact of climate change. But it remains within our grasp, as long as our high aspirations are matched by country-led plans that help the still millions of people living in extreme poverty.”
Very exciting news, for sure. And considering that for almost the entirety of human history, people lived in relatively inhospitable conditions without any sort of modern convenience, getting closer to pulling more of the world’s population out of extreme poverty is very encouraging.
For many Americans, this news may not be all that exciting. After all, the majority of workers in the United States haven’t had an effective raise in decades, and there are significant worries about the future of the labor market as technology and automation become bigger threats to jobs.
Those are real, justifiable concerns, but it’s important to keep things in perspective.
Just look at where all of the world’s ‘great’ and ‘good’ jobs — by Gallup’s definition — are concentrated. For the most part, it’s in the U.S., Europe, and parts of Asia that are seeing the most growth of these positions, which provide a good living, enough hours, and solid paychecks for employees. As incomes and standards of living rise worldwide, we could expect to see growth of these positions in other areas too.
But again, for the average American, all of this may not add up to much, especially when the cost of living keeps increasing, and wages remain stagnant. There’s plenty of concern about the strength of the economy as well, as we’re coming up to the time at which, on average, a recession follows up a period of economic expansion. Nonetheless, it’s hard to deny that most people are living much more comfortably than they were in the not too distant past.
Your grandfather wasn’t able to read the news, or get instantaneous updates from his social circle while riding on an all-electric bus on his way to work — so we’ve got that going for us.
And while you’re doing what you can to keep things in perspective when you’re spending time at a job that may not provide much satisfaction, it’s important to remember that we’re also living in a time and place in which it is entirely possible, with enough drive and perseverance, to change our circumstances dramatically. There aren’t many, if any, other times or places in which that was attainable for most.
Due to the explosion of economic growth over the past century or so, we’re living in a better world than many ever thought was possible. Yes, life can stink sometimes, but it’s important to remember that you’re not being actively hunted by a wild animal, or literally fighting for scraps of food or cups of water. We have it good, relatively speaking, and if you can find solace in that during the harder days, it might make you a bit more content.
Follow Sam on Twitter @SliceOfGinger