Human History, In One Chart

November 8, 2018
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Luke Muehlhauser is a researcher who studies risks to human civilization. Last year, he embarked on an amateur macrohistory project: collecting all of the data that we have available for six different metrics of human wellbeing, and graphing those metrics to get a picture of how the world has changed over time.

The six metrics he charted were life expectancy; GDP per capita; the percentage of the population living in extreme poverty; “war-making capacity,” a measure of technological advancement for which we have the most historical data“energy capture,” which reflects access to food, livestock, firewood, and, in the modern day, electricity; and the percent of people living in a democracy. Obviously, we don’t have a precise measure of many of these things for most of history — but we have enough to get a strong sense of some trends.

He plotted those measures across the entire sweep of human history. The resulting graph is startling…

…continue reading ‘Human History, In One Chart’

Image: By jon smith. catching up! – Flickr: london 2012 olympics – opening ceremony (1)(user changed access level: Only some people can see), CC BY-SA 2.0,

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