The world’s population is growing mainly because life conditions are improving: We’re living longer, thanks to remarkable advances in health and nutrition.
The discovery of therapies for fatal diseases has lowered mortality; improved access to food, clean water, and medical care has made poorer societies healthier overall. Education has changed lives, especially for
girls and women.
As a result, income inequality has gradually lessened, and the share of people living in extreme poverty (on less than $2.15 per day) has declined, from 40 percent in 1980 to below 10 percent in 2017.
However, wide disparities between and within countries persist, as do serious issues such as ongoing conflicts, climate change, and the fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We can fix these problems, we can continue to have a healthy population, even at 8 billion or more, but we can’t do it simply by doing the same things we did the last 50 years,” says Jack Goldstone, a professor of public policy at George Mason University, in Virginia, adding that young people will play a crucial role.
“We need to change our idea of getting richer,” he says, “so it’s not just having more things, it’s living a better quality of life, and living a better quality of life needs to be in reach for everyone in the world.”