If we base our worldview on what we see in the headlines and on the news, it’s easy to conclude that things are getting worse. But a headline is not the same thing as a trendline. Viewed through the lens of data, our world is far better today than it has been for most of humanity.
As recently as 1950, three quarters of the world was still living in extreme poverty. Today, that number is down to less than 10%.
In 1990, one in 10 children died before age five, almost entirely of preventable causes. Today, that number is lower than one in 20. In the next fifteen years, it will be one in 40. Foreign aid has been critical to this progress. It has ensured that as humanity makes these leaps, the benefits extend to everyone.
Investing in the health and well being of people in a poor country also is an investment in the health and security of British citizens at home. For example, aid reduces the threat of deadly pandemic diseases that could spread as quickly across Western Europe as Ebola did in West Africa three years ago.
Foreign aid also helps poor countries become self-sufficient. Take child health. When people no longer have to worry if their children will survive into adulthood, they decide to have fewer children. As family size drops, it gets easier for countries to feed, educate, and provide opportunity for their people.
Just as the Marshall Plan helped Europeans rebuild the continent themselves after World War II, targeted aid today helps countries lift themselves out of poverty and chart their own future.