Sunday, January 21, 2007

Greg Easterbrook's The Progress Paradox

How Life Gets Better While People Feel Worse.

For the first 80 pages, Easterbrook hammers home how much better life keeps getting. Each cynic wants to deny it, searching for exceptions in education or international relations, but the list is impressive, and its supporting evidence powerful.

From 1900 to now, life expectancy almost double; percentage in upper-middle class or above went from 1% to 23%. Almost half of all men worked in primary labor – forestry, farming, and half of all wage-earning women worked as domestic servants – not even what we would call blue collar these days -- but now over 50% of each is white-collar.

Since 1950, houses twice as big for families half the size, and 70% own their dwelling. Life expectancy up 35%. Percentage of folks in war zones, down 80% worldwide.

Crime is down, disease is down, IQ’s are up (yeah, really) and education is better (yeah really). Divorce is down, teenage pregnancy down, drug use down. For those who find this impossible to believe there is a short answer: retrospective memory is inaccurate.

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1 comment:

Promethea said...

Hi, AVI . . .

I dropped over.

You have a great blog. I like your posts on the various tribes. They are quite accurate, judging from the tribes I'm familiar with.

I too have lots of trouble with Shakespeare, but enjoy it just as you described (the silly old man, the sad girl, etc.) It's definitely written in a foreign language with a few shining quotes that make it wonderful. It's worth trying to keep alive, otherwise our culture will have no past whatsoever.

BTW, you would have enjoyed (NOT) the Lyric Opera production of Verdi's Macbeth that took place in (1) an old fake-wood panelled rec room and (2) a men's urinal.