HomeOur World in Data

The world is awful. The world is much better. The world can be much better.

Progress over time shows that it was possible to change the world in the past, but do we know that it’s possible to continue this progress into the fu

Progress over time shows that it was possible to change the world in the past, but do we know that it’s possible to continue this progress into the future? Or were we perhaps born at that unlucky moment in history at which progress has to come to a halt?

Studying the global data suggests that the answer is no. 

One way to see this is to look at the places in the world with the best living conditions today. The best-off places show that extremely low child mortality is not just a possibility, but is already a reality.

The world region where children have the best chance of surviving childhood is the European Union. 99.55% of all children born in the EU survive childhood.6 

To see how much better the world can be, we can ask what the world would look like if this became the reality everywhere. What if children around the world would be as well off as children in the EU? Five million fewer children would die every year.7

Of course, the child mortality rate in the EU is still too high, and there is no reason that progress should stop there. Cancers like leukemia and brain tumors kill hundreds of children, even in today’s richest countries. We should strive to find ways to prevent these tragic deaths.

However the largest opportunities to prevent the pain and suffering of children are in the poorer countries. There we know not only that things can be better, but how to make them better. 

You can use this research on how to make the world a better place to contribute to this progress yourself. I recommend relying on research published by the nonprofit organization, GiveWell.org. GiveWell’s team spent years identifying the most cost-effective charities so that your donation can have the biggest positive impact on the lives of others. Several of the recommended charities focus on improving the health of children, offering you the opportunity to contribute to the progress against child mortality.

Research on how to prevent child deaths and the fact that child mortality in entire world regions is 10-fold lower than the global average show what is possible. Millions of child deaths are preventable. We know that it is possible to make the world a better place.

The world can be better 1