Thoughts for 2019

Richard Murphy has posted a rather gloomy blog entry, outlining many of the things going wrong in Europe and America.  He points, among other things, to Brexit, populism, growing inequality and economic and political instability. 2019, he thinks, ‘is going to be horrid’.  While I can’t gainsay any of the grim predictions he offers, I think there are other grounds for optimism, mainly from the developing world.

  • There have been marked improvements in the incomes of poor populations in many of the world’s poorest countries – among them China, Bangladesh, South East Asia, Latin America and the Middle East.  See the World Bank’s Atlas of Sustainable Development Goals.
  • Around the world, infant mortality is falling.  So is family size – one follows from the other.
  • Maternal mortality is falling.
  • Girls are much more likely to be engaged in primary education.
  • Social protection is being extended.  See The state of social protection 2018.  There is a still a long way to go, with less than 30% of the world’s population experiencing comprehensive social security provision, but safety nets have been spreading across the global South.

2019 might well be horrid, but it may not be quite as horrid for everyone as it threatens to be in the UK.  Happy New Year.



One thought on “Thoughts for 2019”

  1. I agree with both of you! Optimism/pessimism/half full/half empty etc is entirely in the eye of the beholder. Whilst I have been 100% educated, lived in and culturally influenced by living in the UK I have also been fortunate enough to have been exposed to other cultural (and spiritual) influences in later stages of life. Most “baby-boomers” (like me) grew up expecting the economic and social progress of the 60s/70s to continue to grow; so we had expectations which have hit the harsh realities of the past few decades. Our perspective (and that of our society generally) is biased towards economics (the “dismal science”); prevailing cultural norms (e.g. we may be less sexist than previous generations but it is still a male-dominated mind-set) and an almost complete lack of spiritual grounding (not organised religion) to counter the prevalence of materialism. From a UK/European economic and political perspective, 2019 may well be a crap year. However in other parts of the world, as you point out, there are greater grounds for optimism (based both on measured changes and lower expectations). If there is a re-balancing of political power from the western world (former colonial powers) then that may feel negative to “us” but objectively is neither “good” or “bad”. Perhaps a good personal resolution for 2019 would be for each of us to try and challenge at least one of our deeply held personal “views” and consider whether the empirical evidence really supports it or not?

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