If you could be alive at any time in history, when would it be? Would you choose to live right now? Objectively, things aren’t easy for most of us right now. We’re facing social, economic, health, and environmental crises. With all the chaos of today, it can be tempting to lean on nostalgia and believe previous generations had it better or easier. And it can make us long for what seem like simpler times.
We may be too focused on the details to see the big picture. With a look at how far we’ve come, we can more clearly see how good we have it and how things, in many ways, really are getting better.
Consider these seven reasons life is actually the best it’s ever been.
#1 Life Expectancy
We’re living long than people have ever lived before. Worldwide, more than 3 in every 4 people live to be at least 65 years old. In the US, life expectancies for men and women have increased by more than 10 years since 1950. That’s 10 more years the generations before us didn’t have to enjoy retirement, spend time with family, and take in more of the life’s wonders.
#2 Health Care & Medicine
Progress in medicine and health care is one of the reasons we’re living longer than ever. In fact, since 1980, MRIs have been invented, smallpox was eradicated, artificial hearts were developed, and the human genome was sequenced. These and other advancements have done more than just extend the length of people’s lives. They’ve also compressed end-of-life decline, meaning people live better lives longer.
#3 Poverty & Income
Globally, poverty rates have dropped by more than 50% since 2000. In the U.S., 8.4 million people have risen out of poverty since 2014. Also promising, average earnings in the U.S. have increased nearly 20-fold since the 1950s. Adjusting for inflation, some experts say wages have grown by at least 35%, increasing Americans’ purchasing power today when compared to 70 years ago.
Technological advancements have changed so much of how we live and navigate the world. Since 1950 alone, new technology has brought us credit cards, artificial intelligence, the internet, electric cars, cellphones, and GPS technology. These and other innovations have made our lives easier, safer, and better. In fact, while new tech can save time and reduce effort, it can also help save lives.
Despite the headlines, over the last 25 years, crime has dropped dramatically in the U.S. Violent crime, like assault, robbery, and homicide, has fallen by more than 51% since 1993. Over the same period, property crime, like theft and fraud, has followed the same trend, dropping by more than 54%.
#6 Working Conditions
Labor conditions and laws have come a long way since the early 1900s, creating safer environments with better protections for workers. From safety regulations and wage laws to discrimination and child labor laws, U.S. workers are better protected than ever. Beyond safety, workplaces are also more diverse than ever before. In fact, the U.S. workforce has seen a surge of older workers, minorities, and women over the past 25 years.
#8 Quality of Life
Quality of life has improved sharply over the last 100 years, with astounding improvements in living standards across all socio-economic divides. In fact, the average standard of living in the U.S. today would have been envied by even the greatest rulers two centuries ago.
By most standards, we’re living longer, happier, better lives than our great-great-grandparents did.