Progress: Lecture by Johan Norberg

This is part of the DR Book Collection.

Image result for progress norbergSwedish intellectual Johan Norberg has penned a readable, optimistic, and data-driven book on the progress the world has made over the last 200+ years. As the title–Progress: Ten Reasons to Look Forward to the Future–suggests, Norberg focuses on ten aspects of human well-being. Each one has improved dramatically over the last couple centuries:

  1. Food
  2. Sanitation
  3. Life expectancy
  4. Poverty
  5. Violence
  6. The environment
  7. Literacy
  8. Freedom
  9. Equality
  10. The next generation

As I was listening to the Audible version in the car, the section on poverty really got to me, especially this part:

According to some statisticians, 28 March 2012 was a big day for humanity. It was the first day in modern history that developing countries were responsible for more than half of global GDP, up from thirty-eight percent ten years earlier. This convergence makes sense. If people have freedom and access to knowledge, technology and capital, there is no reason why they shouldn’t be able to produce as much as people anywhere else. A country with a fifth of the world’s population should produce around a fifth of its wealth. That has not been the case for centuries, because many parts of the world were held back by oppression, colonialism, socialism and protectionism. But these have no diminished, and a revolution in transport and communication technology makes it easier to take advantage of a global division of labour, and use technologies and knowledge that it took other countries generations and vast sums of money to develop. This has resulted in the greatest poverty reduction the world has ever seen.1

Me when this part came up in the car.

If you want a fantastic summary of some of the greatest achievements in human history, check it out. You can see a lecture by Norberg in the video below.