I know many people who are still doom and gloom about the current state of the world. The economy has still not completely recovered, many (including my husband) are finding it very difficult to find a decent job. Certainly it must be true that the rich are only getting richer while the poor continue to get poorer. How can things be getting better?
But they are, I swear to you, things are slowly but surely getting better. I know our family’s lot has improved significantly in the past year. But I’m not just talking about the situation here at home. Things are getting better worldwide. Don’t believe me? Well, maybe you’ll believe Bill and Melinda Gates.
Through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the couple seeks to improve the quality of life for individuals around the world. Following this philosophy, they have donated billions of dollars, partnered with other charitable organizations and traveled around the world, meeting with world leaders and at-risk people alike to figure out the best ways to help those in need. Each year the Gates’ release an annual letter to the public. Their letter for 2014 explains the 3 MYTHS THAT BLOCK PROGRESS FOR THE POOR:
Myth 1: Poor Countries are Doomed to Stay Poor
In reality, many—though by no means all—of the countries we used to call poor now have thriving economies. And the percentage of very poor people has dropped by more than half since 1990.
Take a look at the following graph:
Bill Gates is the first to admit that no aid program is perfect, and aid is only one of the tools for fighting poverty and disease. In the 14 years since he and Melinda started their foundation he says:
we’ve been lucky enough to go see the impact of programs funded by the foundation and donor governments. What we see over time is people living longer, getting healthier, and escaping poverty, partly because of services that aid helped develop and deliver.
But let’s not just take the Gates’ word for it (which, although impressive, would be considered anecdotal). Let’s take a look at the cold, hard facts as presented by Bill Nye the Science Guy:
Myth 3: Saving Lives Leads to Overpopulation
I can’t tell you how much this belief tees me off, but instead of losing my temper, I’ll let Bill Gates speak to it:
The fact is that a laissez faire approach to development—letting children die now so they don’t starve later—doesn’t actually work, thank goodness. It may be counterintuitive, but the countries with the most deaths have among the fastest-growing populations in the world. This is because the women in these countries tend to have the most births, too. Scholars debate the precise reasons why, but the correlation between child death and birth rates is strong.
As an example, look at this chart of child mortality rates in Brazil:
From Bill and Melinda Gates:
If you read the news every day, it’s easy to get the impression that the world is getting worse. There is nothing inherently wrong with focusing on bad news, of course—as long as you get it in context. Melinda and I are disgusted by the fact that more than six million children died last year. But we are motivated by the fact that this number is the lowest ever recorded. We want to make sure it keeps going down.
Read more of Bill and Melinda Gates’ Annual Letter 2014
I wrote this post as part of the Mom Bloggers for Social Good.