This Week’s Book Review – Ten Global Trends Every Smart Person Should Know

Looking for a good read? Here is a recommendation. I have an unusual approach to reviewing books. I review books I feel merit a review. Each review is an opportunity to recommend a book. If I do not think a book is worth reading, I find another book to review. You do not have to agree with everything every author has written (I do not), but the fiction I review is entertaining (and often thought-provoking) and the non-fiction contain ideas worth reading.

Book Review

The World is Getting Better – Honest!

“Ten Global Trends Every Smart Person Should Know (And Many Others You Will Find Interesting),” by Ronald Bailey and Marian L. Tupy, Cato Institute, 2020, 208 pages, $24.99 (Hardcover ), $9.99 (Kindle)

Is the world getting worse or better?  Given the constant barrage of bad news, it is easy to think things are going from bad to worse.  You would be wrong, though.

“Ten Global Trends Every Smart Person Should Know (And Many Others You Will Find Interesting),” by Ronald Bailey and Marian L. Tupy, explains why. They show, using objective data, the different ways in which the world is improving.

They wrote the book because “You can’t fix what’s wrong in the world if you don’t know what is actually happening.” Using straightforward data and graphs they demonstrate why and how the world has improved, especially over the last 72 years.

The title’s ten trends are presented first. They include global enrichment, declining poverty, abundant resources, peak population, the end of famine, more land for nature, increasing urbanization, increasing democracy, world peace, and increased safety. Charts show the world is richer with fewer people in abject poverty than in any previous point in history. Famine is on the decline, with world population set to reach a peak in the 2070s and then decline. There are fewer interstate wars today than in the past, and the world has become a much safer place. Additionally, there are more people living under representative governments and fewer under autocratic ones than in any time in the past.

Having delivered this good news, the authors drill down on trends in seven different areas: people, health, violence, work, natural resources, farm, and technology. They close with a section exploring trends in the United States. These reinforce the book’s theme: things are getting better.

The book has a simple format: a two-page presentation of each trend. The left page contains a discussion of the trend, the right page a graph presenting the trend graphically. This left-right combination provides a convincing argument for the authors’ conclusions. The sources are presented allowing readers to evaluate their validity.

This book demands a close reading, literally as well as figuratively. To provide over-generous white space, the text of the book is printed in a miniscule font forcing readers to read fine print. Readers with poor vision should consider getting an electronic version, where they can increase the font size.

This book is well worth reading. “Ten Global Trends,” offers an optimistic message, one bearing examination by a wide audience. We have problems, but “Ten Global Trends” identifies those we need not worry over.

Mark Lardas, an engineer, freelance writer, historian, and model-maker, lives in League City. His website is


5 thoughts on “This Week’s Book Review – Ten Global Trends Every Smart Person Should Know”

  1. It is hardly surprising that trends have generally been positive in the last 72 years, since the end of World War II;  after all, the war ended.  Matt Ridley’s book “The Rational Optimist” takes a longer-term look at history to reach the same general conclusion that long-term trends for humanity as a whole have generally been positive, albeit with some very significant multi-generational deviations below that trend.  Ridley’s book also has the advantage of being printed in regular-sized type.

  2. Thanks for this review.   I was intrigued enough to look it up.  The authors are Cato Institute guys, and the book has a website.

    It might be handy to have this available so as to correct the many doomsayers in our lives.

    My view of the world is that, ultimately, everything is in decline.  Social progress masks the true picture.  We accomplish much by standing on the shoulders of those who came before us.  I agree that tremendous progress has been made, and give thanks to live in a land of prosperity.


  3. This trend “forward” (the favorite comment of communists/socialists) has been thanks to capitalism. Only capitalism has created enough wealth to lift the poor out of poverty.

    The natural state of mankind is poverty. There are the small numbers of extremely rich, the raiders, plunderers, conquerers. And then there’s the rest. Capitalism has given “the rest” a fighting chance to advance from their natural state up the ladder of success. It is, therefore, small wonder we are better off – we have enjoyed some version of capitalism for the last 400 years, and it has spread around the globe – via mercantilism, empire, Enlightenment principles – what have you – but it has spread. And all people touched are richer.

  4. MJB:  “My view of the world is that, ultimately, everything is in decline.

    That is one of the interesting features of Matt Ridley’s book — across the ages, many of the giants on whose shoulders we stand thought exactly the same!  Yet here we are.  Citizens of Rome today have incomparably better health, nutrition, lifespans, mobility than their ancestors did 2,000 years ago — but the Roman Empire is gone.  English folk have much better teeth today than they did in the days of the Empire On Which The Sun Never Set — but that empire has disappeared.

    Perhaps the general human belief that it is all going to hell in a handbasket is because we are immersed in particular societies — which are indeed going to decline & vanish, just as the Roman Empire and the British Empire did.  History tells us that all societies eventually crumble.  We are not so aware that the general condition of the human race has been improving over time — albeit with occasional  major multi-generational setbacks due to depressions, wars, natural disasters, famines, plagues, climatic changes, etc.


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