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Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Ignore the Naysayers, Life Is Amazing

Life is pretty great these days and it's only getting better, so why are we all so convinced that it's otherwise?

Which would you rather be, a member of the working class in America today or an 18th-century French monarch? The answer to that is almost certainly the former. A lot has changed in the last 200 years. Heck, a lot has changed in the last 20 years, for that matter, and with a few notable exceptions, those changes have been for the better. In the year 1800, 95 percent of the world lived in extreme poverty. Today, it’s less than 10 percent, despite there being more than 6 billion more people living today. We carry in our pockets a supercomputer that allows us access to the sum total of human knowledge that we use to look at cat GIFs. Life is pretty amazing. So why do so few people believe that’s the case? Join James Harrigan and Antony Davies as they talk about this and more on this week’s episode of Words and Numbers.

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Quick Hits

Iraq is getting safer

Empty seats at the world cup

Foolishness of the Week

Netflix’ 5-second rule

Topic of the Week: The world is getting better every day

Louis CK, everything is amazing and nobody is happy

Cafe Hayek: Most Americans are richer than Rockefeller

Pew survey on perceptions of gun violence

Media and cognitive biases

Living conditions in the United States

U.S. Firearm deaths 2012-2016

U.S. Firearm deaths 1975-1994 (chart 5.1)

U.S. non-fatal firearm violence 1993-2011

Military and civilian deaths due to armed conflicts since 1945

Child labor rates 1950-present

Global income inequality 1800-present

Gender inequality 1995-2015

World poverty 1820-2015

Animation showing longevity and income by country 1800-present

PowerPoint Presentation on World Poverty


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  • James R. Harrigan is a Senior Editor at the American Institute for Economic Research. He is also co-host of the Words & Numbers podcast.

  • Dr. Antony Davies is an Associate professor of Economics at Duquesne University, and co-host of the podcast, Words & Numbers.