In social sciences and even in mainstream economics, the central area of research is that how happy are people in today’s world? But the real concern is, can happiness be measured? A few social scientists recommend that measures of economic prosperity accounts for happiness such as GDP per capita can be attributed to determine how happy a person is.
Despite money having a lot to do with happiness, it is not something which can guarantee it. If money was the reason behind happiness, we would not have seen so many celebrities worth millions committing suicide. There is no denying that the world is facing a lot of issues like terrorism, economic crisis, depletion of resources but still, there are certain facts which bring positivity around us and make us believe that the world is a happy place to live in.
1. Reduction in world poverty
By absolute poverty, we mean that a person is living on less than $1.25 per day. If we consider the last 30 years, the number of people living below the poverty line has reduced globally from 53% to 17%. Although there is still a lot of room for improvement in regions like Africa and South Asia, however, the governments and private organizations are trying their best to make life better for individuals living in these areas. It can safely be said that with the current level of progress, poverty will be extinguished from this world in the next 20 years or so.
2. Cure for diseases like HIV
Two diseases which are HIV and cancer have cost a lot to humanity and a number of people have lost their loved ones to them. While the scientists and the doctors are still unable to find a foolproof cure for cancer, they do have a way out for the patients who are HIV positive. In 2012, a study was conducted on 14 French people who had HIV. They took antiretrovirals after becoming infected for three years consecutively. For the next seven years, they had very low levels of virus in their system.
3. Crime is on a decline
If we consider the quite recent Orlando shootings and school violence, the situation might seem to be vain. However, when we talk in aggregate, there is a significant reduction in the crime scene in the United States if we take into account the last 50 years. From the early 80s till mid-90s, the number of violent crime victims per 1000 individuals was 50 whereas now, it is only 15. Thus, we can safely say that the US is becoming more of a safer and peaceful country.
4. Gender inequality has reduced
Since 1995, the gender inequality has come down by 20%. This figure has been given by the U.N.’s Human Development Reports on Gender Inequality Index in their study of social empowerment, reproductive health, and labor market equity. Women are now thriving equally with men in all fields of life and are entitled to equal pay, an equal number of leaves, and all the benefits.
5. Increase in average life expectancy
In the 1900s, the average life expectancy was around 50 years but it has increased dramatically in the twenty-first century. In Japan, the average life expectancy is 83 years whereas, in a number of other countries, it is 81. Scientists have also found a gene which can possibly slow down the process of aging in human beings. This gene can be used to stop the decline of the body and increase its ability to fight various diseases. They say that they have already discovered a remote way to activate this gene.
6. The ozone is making a recovery
Around 300 scientists have made an assessment that the ozone layer is recovering since the people have worked to reduce carbon emissions around the world. It is expected that the ozone layer will return to the benchmark levels of 1980 in the next few decades. It was during this year that the depletion started taking place in the mid-latitudes of Arctic and somewhat far away in Antarctic.
7. Clean and green energy taking over
The people of this planet have finally realized that they are damaging the environment and, in turn, are on their way of destroying their only home i.e. Earth. A number of clean and environmentally friendly energy solutions have been presented in the market with most of them being adopted to make the world a better place for our future generations. The good news is that the renewables are generating 22% of the energy in the world and will soon take over the energy sector. India has pledged to make sure that there are only electric cars in the country within a decade.
8. Decrease in infant mortality
Because of the advancement in medical sciences and technology, a lot of vaccines and cures have been developed which have improved the living conditions for children under the age of 5. In the previous century, these children were prone to a number of diseases which would take their lives before their immune system could become strong enough to fight them. The under 5 mortality rates have dropped by a whopping 50% in the past 25 years and if we consider the last century, the figure is nothing less than a miracle.
9. Average IQs have increased
Do you know that since 1914, the average IQs have risen by 24 points? Yes, Albert Einstein and Newton lived in the past centuries but the current generation has the potential of producing people who are far more genius than they were. The test makers are continuously adjusting the IQ tests so that they are become according to the smartness of the next generation. There is no denying that the kids are doing better on the harder tests and it is called the Flynn effect.
10. Global literacy rates on the rise
Talking about IQs, how can we forget the literacy rates in different parts of the globe. There is no denying that there certain countries where the literacy rates are still below the line. However, on the whole, a dramatic increase has been seen in the percentage of literate people around the globe. In the last 500 years, the literacy rate has moved from 10% to a close to 100% and this cannot be termed as a small achievement.
11. Teen pregnancy in the US reduced
There was a time when 89.1 out of every 1000 teenage girls aged between 15 to 19 were giving birth to a child. If we consider the numbers since 1950, in 2012, 305,388 babies were born to teenage girls lying in this age group. This is a record low for the US because the number 89.1 has been reduced to 29.4. The birth rates have dramatically felt and are 8% for women aged 15-17 and 5% for 18-19 years old women.
12. Child labor declining
There is nothing more heartbreaking than child labor which is still prevalent in numerous regions of the world. However, if we look at the figures from the last 20 years, there is a drastic decrease in this social disease. More than 50% children have been rescued from this problem and the number is continuously decreasing. This is because of the intense efforts of some of us and also, the developing technology has made operations easier and cheaper because of machines.
13. Increased levels of education
In the last 200 years or so, the people from different parts of the world have received more “years of education”. In 1820, an average person in the US received less than 2 years of education. In today’s world, this number has increased to 21 years of education that means that there is a 10 times improvement in the education sector in the past two centuries. There are numerous steps taken for the democratization, dematerialization, and demonetization of education.
14. Food is becoming affordable
We waste food on a daily basis because we don’t realize what it means to some people living on the same planet. The famine-stricken areas in Africa have seen so many deaths just because of unavailability of drinking water and food. Even in the developing and developed countries, the people who are living below the poverty line are deprived of such a basic necessity of life. However, better food production technology, processes, and policies are steadily bringing down food prices. Over the last 50 years, the disposable income spent on food has dropped to 6% from 14%.
15. Fewer deaths due to wars
It might sound astonishing to you given the situation of a few countries in the Middle East but the last decade has seen a fewer number of war casualties and deaths as compared to yester years. Peace Research Institute, Oslo, compiled different data and the researchers found out that the war deaths in this century are considerably less as they used to be in the past century. Around the globe, the deaths caused by direct war have come down to the average of 55,000 per year. This figure is half of that in 1990s and a hundredth as compared to what it was in World War II.
The World Happiness Report is an annual report about the happiness and contentment of people living in different parts of the world. It compiles data from 160 different countries through the Gallup World Poll and outlines the levels of happiness in each of them.
The report also depicts that in the majority of the countries, the trend of happiness is continuously on the rise, for example, in Zimbabwe, the number of people who reported to be very happy rose from 56.4% in 2004 to 82.1% in 2014. Thus, we also need to see the positivity around us and let go of all the skepticism and negative thoughts.