Sunday, January 04, 2009

Top 10 Reasons Life Is Getting Better All The Time

Be prepared to see a lot of doom and gloom this week. Those year-end video and photo montages, year-in-review summaries, and "a look back" reflections are inevitably gloomy even in boom times. That's likely to be especially true in 2008, a year that, admittedly, wasn't particularly filled with hope.

The last 12 months may prove not to be the most fondly recalled in recent American history, but things aren't all that bad. Most social indicators are still moving in the right direction. In general, our standard of living continues to improve. Advances in technology are helping us beat the diseases most likely to kill us; giving us more leisure time; making us more comfortable; giving us more convenience; and with the Internet, putting much of the world—quite literally—at our fingertips.

So here's the good news:

1. Crime rates are falling.

2. Sex crimes are down.

3. The divorce rate is at its lowest point in four decades.

4. Life expectancy is up.

5. Mortality rates for eight of the 10 leading causes of death in America are dropping. Deaths from the two biggest killers—cancer and heart disease—have been in decline for a decade. Deaths from the third leading cause of death, stroke, are also down.

6. For six years, both incidence of and deaths from cancer have been in decline.

7. Since 1991, fewer teens are having sex, fewer are having sex with multiple partners, and more are using condoms when they do engage in intercourse.

8. The abortion rate is also at its lowest point in 30 years.

9. Juvenile violent crime is still 40% lower than it was in 1994. The juvenile murder rate is a whopping 73% below its high in 1993.

10. We have more leisure time. Americans work on average eight fewer hours per week than we did in the 1960s.

Source: Randy Balko at Reason Magazine


At 1/04/2009 11:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

1. Unfortunately, as my income declines relative to others', I have been displaced into neighborhoods with higher crime rates. So while YOUR risk is declining, mine is not.

2. That is certainly a good thing. Don't notice any decline is my personal risk (i.e. this decline isn't noticably making MY life better).

3. A good thing generally; again, no personal impact here.

4. My health is declining; Your Mileage May Varyt.

5. Again, generally a good thing; I don't expect this general decline to save me.

6. Sounds like the general decline is smoking is paying off, and young smokers haven't yet had time to get cancer.

7. That's certainly a relief; glad it's not just me. (That was a joke!)

8. That really IS a good thing.

9. Another really good thing. Is there a known explanation for this good news?

10. I work about eight fewer hours per week too, but not by choice.

At 1/05/2009 8:35 AM, Blogger Hokey said...

p.s. his name is Radley

At 1/05/2009 9:03 AM, Blogger PeakTrader said...

Poor Boomer, you seem immobile. The U.S. is a most diverse and fragmented society. If it weren't for tens of millions of Third World immigrants and their children, most of America's big cities would be ghost towns (the U.S. is the only developed country where its fertility rate exceeds its replacement rate). Almost the entire U.S. housing boom took place in middle and upper class neighborhoods (i.e. neighborhoods expanded and created). Currently, 20% of U.S. households earn over $100,000 a year, and median U.S. family income is over $60,000 a year. So, generally, there has been tremendous upward mobility and enormous increases in absolute living standards.

At 1/05/2009 10:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

PeakTrader -

I hadn't considered that almost all of the housing boom occurred in (the expansion of) middle and upper class neighborhoods but that certainly makes sense. Certainly I have seen the boom occur in new subdivisions and high-end neighborhoods.

After all, the 'filtering' theory of housing suggests that as new housing is built, older housing filters down to lower income groups.

I don't think, after childhood, I have EVER lived in housing built within the past 40 years; over time, I seem to be displaced into older housing in declining neighborhoods.

As an older unskilled college graduate, others have suggested that my 'career' prospects are grim indeed. They have said that a degree carries with it a limited 'shelf life' or 'sell-by' date. This corresponds to my own experience, in which job interviews were not difficult to get during the first five years following graduation, with the interviews abruptly drying up after five years.

At 1/05/2009 11:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Articles like this one are always fun to read and talk about. But the science is often weak and they sometimes misrepresent reality.

For example, most of the SALARIED and/or professional people I know have been increasingly required by their employers to work more and more hours at their jobs. Corporations and other organizations keep trying to get leaner and meaner. For example, I have two family members whose companies recently laid off employees and have dumped their work loads on the remaining employees who already had more than full time responsibilities and did so with no additional compensation to the remaining employees. They must work extraordinary hours and work weekends to keep up.

Furthermore, there has been coverage in the media about employers cutting the hours of hourly employees to save overhead. Fewer hours resulting in less wages is not a good thing for these employee.

At 1/06/2009 12:19 AM, Blogger Justin Wehr said...

Mark, I appreciate you consistently putting things in perspective. People easily forget how good we have it.


At 1/08/2009 2:46 PM, Blogger Krel Syndor said...

Very interesting points, and I like to see some optimism. I do often wonder if it's just that age old sense of doom people seem to always have or if we're really in trouble. However with that being said, the prosperity of this country compared to the ratio of real wealth we actually create really only leads down one path. But instead of a free market solution, we'll try some good ol' government expansion.

At 1/13/2009 11:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know where you obtained the stats for #10 on your list, but I think it's wholely inaccurate.

In the 1960s, my property taxes were $92 and I worked one 8-hour/day job, 5 days a week, as did most of my neighbors.

Today, taxes are just shy of $15,000 on the same house, and the wife and I both have to work. My neighbors hold multiple jobs, and their kids even have jobs after school, to help make ends meet. I know a number of people who work 90 hours/week. Your figures seem to have skipped us.


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