Anyone reading the news in recent years could be forgiven for reaching the conclusion that the world is in terrible shape and only getting worse. Radelet challenges this perception, at least as far as economic development and democratization are concerned. He reckons that the past quarter century has seen the greatest advances in material well-being in the history of mankind, whether measured in terms of real income, infant mortality, devastation from disease, or a host of other indicators. During the same period, democratic governance has made significant advances all over the world, and Radelet believes the two trends are related. Between 1993 and 2011, some 955 million people rose out of extreme poverty, as defined by the World Bank. Admittedly, China’s tremendous economic boom accounted for 60 percent of those. Still, that means that close to 400 million people escaped destitution elsewhere. Radelet does not want anyone to become complacent; there is still much poverty to be eliminated. But he wants to acknowledge, build on, and learn from the substantial successes that have been achieved. Challenges lie ahead, especially in the form of civil conflicts over scarce resources and risks posed by climate change. Radelet, however, believes that good political leadership and international cooperation can overcome such obstacles to further prosperity.
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