We are getting richer. Not every human being on the planet and not every country. But the average person has an economic standard of living that's far better than it used to be.
One way of measuring it is to look at the amount of goods and services produced per person - gross domestic product or GDP per capita.
For the global population that rose almost fourfold in the 60 years up to 2010.
There were some marked divergences between countries. In China the increase was a stunning eighteen-fold. South Korea and Taiwan managed even more. On average, they are 25 times richer than in 1950.
A few countries, mainly in Africa, lost ground. In the Democratic Republic of Congo average living standards fell by more than half in the same period. ...
... One benefit from that is that we are living longer. In the middle of the last century a new-born baby could expect to live 50 years. Now the figure is 70. Once again there are large variations between countries but the favourable trend in that period is present in almost every nation - Botswana is the only one where life expectancy declined (by a few months). ...
... There is of course a debate, a rather vigorous one, to be had about just how bad a thing rising inequality really is. That is even more true of the question of what, if any, government policies should be employed to tackle it.
Rising inequality is a reminder that, richer though the world is, some people don't feel it.
This article does a good job at highlighting postive trends while also recognizing that improvements are uneven. The article touches on concerns about inequality but there are also environmental impact and resource depletion issues to be raised. The key to wisdom is understanding that these trends - the positive and the negative - are all interconnected.
Is the greater concentration of wealth at the top (to the degree it is really happening) a by-product of the same forces that are lifting hundreds of millions of people out of poverty? If so, blindly attacking wealth inequality and may thwart the progress of millions climbing out of poverty.
Is the global economic growth that is improving the living standards of so many people also causing damage to the climate and environment to the point that one day soon we all will see our living standards diminish? If so, blindly pursing economic growth may actually end up diminishing our quality of life.
The key is to think holistically. Populist movments usually take us in the opposite direction.