Positivity in a Sea of Negativity

by: Richard A. Anderson

Over the past few weeks the focus of our weekly posts has been on the volatility in the global equity market. We have sought to provide some insight into what’s driving global stocks lower and provide perspective on how frequently drawdowns like the one we are currently mired in occur. We hope these insights and perspectives have been valuable for you and helped to give you peace of mind.

I wanted to take time this week to shift the focus of our attention to something bigger and more important than investing. This may seem sacrilegious and blasphemous, especially coming from me, but I think you will find what I am saying to be true.

You don’t need to look too hard to find negativity in this world. Flip on the news, pull up your social media account, or have a conversation with a family member or friend. The availability and free flow of information available at our finger tips makes it almost inescapable. Politics, weather, crime, terrorism, and a laundry list of bad news can create an overwhelming sense that the world is getting worse with each passing day.

Yet, in reality, this could not be further from the truth. We have made significant strides in the fields of medicine, manufacturing, agriculture, and technology that have contributed to an overall improvement in quality of life.

Thanksgiving is a time to express gratitude and give thanks for all that we have. Given the recent negativity around the stock market and that Thanksgiving is this week, I thought this a great time to share some charts that will inspire a sense of positivity.

11192018_life expectancy.png

There is an abundance of information in the “Life Expectancy of the World Population in 1800, 1950 and 2012” chart shown above. Shown on the x-axis is the cumulative share of the world population. On the y-axis is the life expectancy of each country.

In 1800, the global average life expectancy was only 32 years. By 1950, the life expectancy had grown by 50% to 48 years. But that growth was most significant in richer countries in Europe and North America, while there was only modest improvement in poorer countries in Africa and Asia. By 2012, the global average life expectancy had increased to 70 years, with the most improvement being experienced in poorer countries.

Not only has the global average life expectancy increased significantly since 1800, but there is more equality in terms of life expectancy by country.

11192018_child mortality.png

In 1800, 43% of the world’s children died before their 5th birthday. In 1960, child mortality declined significantly but was still 18.5%. Nearly one in five children died before their 5th birthday. By 2015, child mortality was down to only 4.3%.

11192018_extreme poverty.png

In 1820, 94% of the world’s population lived in extreme poverty. By 1970, the percentage of the world’s population living in extreme poverty declined to 60%. In 2015, less than 10% of the world’s population lives in extreme poverty.

11192018_literacy rate.png

In 1820, only 12% of the world’s population could read and write. By 1960, the percentage of the world’s population that is literate increased to 42%. In 2015, the global literacy rate was 86%.

I started this post by saying that it feels like negativity is inescapable. In short time frames, it can be hard to see the forest from the trees. However, when you take a step back and take a long-term perspective, it’s nearly impossible not to see the significant progress we have achieved. I think that is something we can all be grateful for this Thanksgiving.