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Read a newspaper or watch the evening news, and the world always seems to be getting worse.So it is worth stepping back and recognizing that many indicators point to a world that is improving. New data from the World Bank shows that the proportion of extremely poor people has more than halved over the last 30 years, from 42 percent of the global population in 1981 to 17 percent in 2010 . While 1.2 billion people in the developing world still live on less than $1.25 per day – a problem that we certainly must address – the rate of extreme poverty has never been lower. Today, the cost of global illiteracy is down to 7 percent of GDP. By 2050, when illiteracy will reach about 12 percent, the cost will have dwindled to just 3.8 percent of GDP.Since the Korean War peak of 7 percent, global costs have declined steadily, reaching 3.5 percent in 1980 and about 1.7 percent today. Even a pessimistic outlook suggests an increase only to about 1.8 percent by 2050; under a more optimistic scenario, military costs could decline further, to 1.6 percent of GDP.
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