32 Reasons To Be Happy (Part 4)

2 min readJun 29, 2018

The media would like you to believe the world is in a worse state than it actually is. The reality is there is much to celebrate.

It’s the last instalment in this four part series looking at the work from Hans Rosling’s excellent book Factfulness. It will hopefully leave you feeling a bit better about the world. If you haven’t read Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 it might help to start with them.

To give yourself an even bigger mood lift, consider giving up reading or watching the news completely. If anything truly serious happens, you’ll be sure to hear about it from a friend or colleague anyway!

In this post, we take a look a further eight bad things that have dramatically declined over time.

1. Deaths from plane crashes — deaths per 10 billion passenger miles (5 year averages) have fallen from 2,100 (1929–1933) to 1 in (2012–2016). Source: Gapminder based on iATA, ICAO, BTS & ATAA

2. Child labour — Share of children aged 5–14 who work full time under bad conditions has dropped from 28% in 1950 to 10% in 2012. Source: Gapminder based on ILO & OurWorldInData

3. Deaths from disaster — 1,000 deaths per year (10 year average) as a result of disasters has fallen from 971 in 1930s to 72 (2010–2016). Source: EM-DAT (The International Disasters Database)

4. Nuclear arms — 1,000s of nuclear warheads in the world have declined from 64 in 1986 to 15 in 2017. Source: Nuclear Notebook & SIPRI

5. Smallpox — number of countries in the world (out of 194) with smallpox cases has dropped from 148 in 1850 to 0 in 1979. Now that’s worth celebrating! Source: Klepac et al.

6. Smoke particles — KG of S02 particles emitted per person has fallen from 38kg in 1970 to 14kg in 2010. Source: Gapminder, Klein Goldewijk, CDIAC & UN-Pop

7. Ozone depletion — 1,000 tons of ozone-depleting substances in use has declined from 1,663 in 1970 to 22 in 2016. Source: UNEP

8. Hunger — Share of people undernourished has dropped from 28% in 1970 to 11% in 2015. Source: Gapminder based on FAO

Ok, that’s it. Or at least those are all the ones that Hans provided graphical data for in his wonderful book. Hope you enjoyed this series of articles and they helped you to put things in perspective and feel happier about the current state of the world.

If you’re interested in learning about other examples of world progress then it’s worth reading Steven Pinker’s excellent book ‘The Better Angels of Our Nature’ or check out the website humanprogress.org.




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