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Prosperity Rising

The Success of Global Development—and How to Keep It Going

Live long and prosper: administering a polio vaccine in Karachi, Pakistan, October 2014. REUTERS / AKHTAR SOOMRO

Since the early 1990s, daily life in poor countries has been changing profoundly for the better: one billion people have escaped extreme poverty, average incomes have doubled, infant death rates have plummeted, millions more girls have enrolled in school, chronic hunger has been cut almost in half, deaths from malaria and other diseases have declined dramatically, democracy has spread far and wide, and the incidence of war—even with Syria and other conflicts—has fallen by half. This unprecedented progress goes way beyond China and India and has touched hundreds of millions of people in dozens of developing countries across the globe, from Mongolia to Mozambique, Bangladesh to Brazil.

Yet few people are aware of these achievements, even though, in aggregate, they rank among the most important in human history. In 2013, the Swedish survey organization Novus Group International asked Americans how they thought the share of the world’s population

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