We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Thank goodness so many people have university degrees

In 1820, the vast majority of people lived in extreme poverty and only a tiny elite enjoyed higher standards of living. Economic growth over the last 200 years completely transformed our world, with poverty falling continuously over the last two centuries. This is even more remarkable when we consider that the population increased 7-fold over the same time. In a world without economic growth, an increase in the population would result in less and less income for everyone. A 7-fold increase in the world population would be potentially enough to drive everyone into extreme poverty. Yet, the exact opposite happened. In a time of unprecedented population growth, we managed to lift more and more people out of poverty.

[…]

Despite the clear evidence, many people are not aware of the fact that extreme poverty is declining across the world. The chart below shows the perceptions that survey-respondents in the UK have regarding global achievements in poverty reductions. While the share of extremely poor people has fallen faster than ever before in history over the last 30 years, the majority of people in the UK thinks that the opposite has happened, and that poverty has increased!

The chart below presents evidence from a survey in the UK, but ignorance of global development is even greater in other countries that were also surveyed. The extent of ignorance in the UK is particularly bad if we take into account that the shown result corresponds to a population with a university degree.

Max Roser & Esteban Ortiz-Ospina

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on TumblrShare on RedditShare on Google+Share on VKEmail this to someone

20 comments to Thank goodness so many people have university degrees

  • Laird

    That’s way too long an article for me to ever read, important as the subject is. Which is disappointing. A lengthy article such as this typically has an Executive Summary or some such section to highlight the most important points; this one does not. I liked the few points you plucked out of it, but I suspect there are more jewels buried in there which I (and most people) will never see.

  • Włodek P.

    Your loss, Laird, it’s a serious article and Samizdata provided the summary 😉

  • Nicholas (Unlicenced Joker) Gray

    ‘Extreme poverty’? Bloody extremists!!

  • Rudolph Hucker

    @Laird:
    Executive Summary?
    How about this?
    “Zoo Chimps provide more accurate answers than university students.”

    here’s a great TED video from the myth-busting Hans Rosling/.
    https://www.ted.com/talks/hans_and_ola_rosling_how_not_to_be_ignorant_about_the_world

  • Laird

    Fascinating TED video, Rudolph. Thanks for the link.

    That may indeed be my loss, Wlodek; we’ll never know. But if so it is entirely the fault of the authors. With neither an executive summary nor a conclusion, and even a wholly innocuous title, there is simply no way to judge in advance whether the article is worth the investment of my time. And that provides the answer: an author who cares so little for my time isn’t going to be given any of it.

    If the article was intended to convey important or useful information to a large number of people, it is an utter failure. That’s not necessarily the case if the purpose was to communicate within a small body of experts (or simply to pad the CV), but in such case they set their sights far too low. They should write a version aimed toward the layman, for publication in the popular press.

  • If the article was intended to convey important or useful information to a large number of people, it is an utter failure

    Oh please. Not everything should be very succinct blog posts or predigested for the can’t-be-arsed set, and it is up to others (such as me with this post) to spread the word based on more substantive works like this. And the ‘popular press’ have fuck all interest in something so radically off-narrative, because they are for the most part sub-Chimpanzee ignoramuses, as per the entertaining TED talk (cheers Rudolph) 😆

  • James Hargrave

    Though I cannot speak from first-hand experience, I suggest that nowadays a dose of tertiary syphilis is probably more intellectually stimulating than one of tertiary education (and I had three doses of that).

  • Laird

    Perry, did you actually read my comment? I’m not asking for things to be “predigested”; I’m asking for a succinct summary so I can determine whether I want to invest the time in reading the thing. And this one did not do so; in fact, it was written in just about the most inaccessible way possible. Even the “Overview” basically concerns methodology, not content. If it’s a technical article in a professional journal that’s one thing (although even most of those contain an “abstract”), but as far as I can tell that’s not what this one is.

    Yes, your quote of a few sentences did lead me to look at it. But I expect a little more from the author. Why is that asking too much?

    I have no fear of long or technical articles; I read lots of them. But I expect to be lead into it.

  • Seriously I find your comments on this utterly baffling. It is hardly like wading through a doctoral thesis and it really ain’t so dense that is can’t be blown through quite quickly.

  • Paul Marks

    Yes Perry – the central mistake of 19th century liberalism (both here and in America – and elsewhere) was the spead of state fianced (or state regulated) “education”. It was meant to spread knowledge and virtue – and above-all liberty. In reality it has spread ignorance (indeed lies), moral decline – and a belief in all mighty state whose every failure is explained by the “wrong people” (“selfish Tories” or whatever) being in charge.

    People have been taught that “capitalism” promotes poverty – the rich becoming rich AT THE EXPENSE OF the poor.

    The persons who spread this poison sometimes deny being Marxists – but, whether they know it or not, what they spread is the LIES of Marxism.

    Governor John Jay of New York argued that his prisons (rather than flogging and so on) would “reform” criminals, and that his proposed schools (he never lived to see the New York State education system actually created) would “enlighen” children who were trapped in the horrors of, boo-hiss, church schools or home schooling – I wish he would return to Earth from Heaven for one day, so I could take him to see state prisons and schools in New York so that he could see how much “reforming” and “enlightening” is going on in them.

    Even in Massachusetts, which has always boasted of having the best state education system in the United States, the illiteracy rate is higher now than before the system was created.

  • Thailover

    Two things you can count on.
    1. Generally speaking, in the long run, things are getting better.
    2. Generally speaking, people think things are getting worse.

    People also have a difficult time putting things in perspective. Yes, people in the third world who work in “sweat shops” earn, if they’re lucky, a few bucks a day, which of course, gets westerners all lathered up. But what the outraged trustfund babies in the west miss is that people who work in said shops earn, typically, 2 to 5 times the average wage for that country. (In the case of honduras, it’s 7 times). This is why “sweat shop” jobs are in such demand in these countries. It sure as hell beats picking through garbage dumps for something to resell.

  • Thailover

    “People have been taught that “capitalism” promotes poverty – the rich becoming rich AT THE EXPENSE OF the poor.”

    The USA has more wealth today than existed on the entire planet just a few centuries ago. Where, pray-tell, do these fools think that wealth came from? It IS very difficult to get people to understand that if Jay and Hank are engaging in voluntary, rational trade with one another, that if Hank profits, it’s not at Jay’s expense. Indeed, they BOTH profit at the same time with no one losing, which the zero-summers can hardly wrap their minds around. The ‘redistribution’ minded people tend to not be that bright.

  • Patrick Crozier

    “…the shown result corresponds to a population with a university degree.”

    This threw me. I had to look up the linked article to find out that, yes, all those surveyed had university degrees (or at least claimed to).

  • Just FWIW (re Laird, January 12, 2018 at 8:22 pm), I found the quotes reasonably interesting in themselves (plus I skim-read the article). If anything were not adequately summarised, it would be by quoting

    While the share of extremely poor people has fallen faster than ever before in history over the last 30 years, the majority of people in the UK thinks that the opposite has happened, and that poverty has increased!

    without clarifying, as Patrick Crozier (January 13, 2018 at 9:27 am) does, that

    all those surveyed had university degrees (or at least claimed to)

    but I can well believe that Perry, like Patrick, found the reference to that in the main article so poorly written as to be unclear. The fuller quote is

    The extent of ignorance in the UK is particularly bad if we take into account that the shown result corresponds to a population with a university degree.

    I’d say that is the wrong way round. It is not ‘particularly bad’ but rather relatively heartening that this absurdity is not so widely believed by the population at large but only by a subsegment who ‘had university degrees (or claimed to)’.

    It may be that James Hargrave (January 12, 2018 at 6:18 pm) has a point – but I will avoid verifying by experience. 🙂

  • I’d say that is the wrong way round. It is not ‘particularly bad’ but rather relatively heartening that this absurdity is not so widely believed by the population at large but only by a subsegment who ‘had university degrees

    Heh, yes this was my reaction too! 😆

  • Tedd

    What baffles me is that this information — as important as it is — is hardly new. Evidence that poverty is declining has been readily available for decades. Same with violence and other subjects that are ostensibly of concern to many people. So how is it I regularly discover that people I know aren’t aware of these trends? I know the ready answers — media sensationalism, the political utility of crises, and so on — but I don’t find them all that convincing as explanations. Of course they’re real, but everybody knows about them and so could, if they so desired, compensate for them.

    It’s very tempting to suppose that a lot of people are simply titillated by doom and gloom, and willfully ignore evidence to the contrary because, on some level, the doom and gloom is more fun. We’ve all experienced the sense of glee that some people exhibit when telling you about an ostensible catastrophe they’ve recently become aware of. I generally avoid psychological speculation, but I’m beginning to think that — in much the same way that precautionary fairy tales are universal and seemingly immortal — the appeal of bad news is programmed into us by evolution.

  • Tedd

    On a different note, anybody care to speculate on why the spread of results at the bottom of the global dissatisfaction scale is so much greater than at the top? If you include only the countries with the highest dissatisfaction results you get an inverse relationship between dissatisfaction and GDP per capita, which is exactly what my engineer’s brain expected to see. But there are plenty of countries with pretty low dissatisfaction results near the bottom of the GDP per capita scale. It’s not at all clear to me why that might be.

  • PersonFromPorlock

    It IS very difficult to get people to understand that if Jay and Hank are engaging in voluntary, rational trade with one another, that if Hank profits, it’s not at Jay’s expense. Indeed, they BOTH profit at the same time with no one losing, which the zero-summers can hardly wrap their minds around.

    In the zero-summer’s mind, Jay and Hank’s mutual gain can only be at Arthur’s expense; and Arthur lives either in the Third World or in the poor part of town, absorbing awkward fact and returning a comfortable indignation.

    Mind you, Arthur may be real – but not always.

  • Julie near Chicago

    PfP. Exactly; and a very good observation. Well said.

  • Thailover

    “It’s very tempting to suppose that a lot of people are simply titillated by doom and gloom, and willfully ignore evidence to the contrary because, on some level, the doom and gloom is more fun. We’ve all experienced the sense of glee that some people exhibit when telling you about an ostensible catastrophe they’ve recently become aware of. I generally avoid psychological speculation, but I’m beginning to think that — in much the same way that precautionary fairy tales are universal and seemingly immortal — the appeal of bad news is programmed into us by evolution.”

    That’s why the computer generated matricies kept failing until they created one that let people wallow in their own self-made miseries. I blame Agent Smith.

    All kidding aside, it’s interesting that every “world view” system ends up with some sort of eschatology, i.e. “end of the world” scenario, be it something akin to Armageddon, Ragnorok, or the secularists’ global warming gloom and doom. Honestly, I see little difference in some bearded wild man yelling that Jesus is coming and the end is neigh, and that of a wild, bearded Al Gore preaching that ocean levels will rise 20ft in 100yrs, and that the polar bears are dying. (They’re actually flourishing).

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>