The World Is More Prosperous Than Ever

Something not widely recognized amid the endless tales of economic woe from the United States and Europe is that taken as a whole the world has never been as rich as it is right now. That’s thanks first and foremost to the amazing growth of China, then secondarily to the somewhat-less-amazing growth in India. Brazil is big and counts as one of the BRICs, but Argentina and Chile have had a great decade too. And the same factors that have boosted Latin America—high global commodity prices and reduced levels of violence and political chaos—are paying off for Africa as well.


Some of the benefits are brought to you by Michael Clemens:

If you’re sick of the sad, hopeless stories coming out of Africa, here’s one that made my year. New statistics show that the rate of child death across sub-Saharan Africa is not just in decline—but that decline has massively accelerated, just in the last few years. From the middle to the end of the last decade, declines in child mortality across the continent plummeted much faster than they ever had before.

These shocking new numbers are in a paper released today by Gabriel Demombynes and Karina Trommlerová in the Kenya office of the World Bank.

It’s strikingly impressive to me that so many of these achievements have come in poorer countries at a time of desperately muddled thinking and economic drift in the main rich countries. Global growth is a positive sum enterprise, so if we had growing economies in Japan and Western Europe and some convergence to full employment in the United States the picture would almost certainly be looking even brighter in the places that are doing well.