Health, education, and welfare by (4 Stories)

Prompted By Inequality

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Health, education, and welfare: equality is improving, but progress is uneven.

Health (life expectancy). Since 1900 global life expectancy more than doubled and is now above 70 years. Inequality is still large across/within countries. The Central African Republic’s life expectancy is 53 years; Japan’s: 83.

Education (literacy). World literacy increased from 21% in 1900 to more than 86% now.  All countries outside Africa (except Afghanistan) have literacy rates above 50%. Burkina Faso, Niger, and South Sudan have literacy rates below 30%.

Welfare (income). Whether inequality is rising or falling depends on where, when, and what aspect of inequality we consider. Consumption is becoming more equal, but the share of income of the top 1% rose from 7 to 20% in the last 25 years.


Profile photo of Michael Wallace Michael Wallace

Characterizations: moving


  1. Thanx Michael for the stark statistics and the food for thought!

  2. When I provide statistics, I always wonder how to present them in a way that interests readers. Suggestions welcome!

  3. Marian says:

    Great use of numbers, Michael, to encapsulate how far we have to go in this world.

  4. Betsy Pfau says:

    You’ve covered the large spectrum of inequality and given us lots of food for thought in your RetroFlash. Thank you.

  5. Suzy says:

    Fascinating statistics. You don’t have room to say any more in a RetroFlash, but in a longer story you could relate them to your own life or experiences. A personal story is always more interesting to me.

  6. Laurie Levy says:

    Thanks for sharing these statistics, Michael. The last one in particular is plaguing our country, although inequities in health and education abound. It’s shameful.

  7. Khati Hendry says:

    The picture was so beautiful–maybe your dog? It reminded me of the time some wolves crossed in front of us on winter’s day in Banff park. When I read the pleasantly positive statistics on some progress around the world, the contrast with the forest and canine struck me–some human progress, and so much at risk, all linked together.

  8. Now that I follow you on Twitter, I felt right at home with this post, and actually appreciated getting something more elaborated than the Twitter limit. Keep it up, there and here.

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