III. World changes
general, living conditions have improved globally in the last
several decades. For example, infant mortality rates, and illiteracy
have declined, and political freedom has increased. Not for
everyone and not for all equally, but overall there has been
improvement. Other changes including changes in world populations.
These patterns are
described in more detail
World population has moved
growth has slowed, but has still been
in developing countries. Thus, the percent of world population living
the developing countries has grown from 70% in 1960 to 81% in 2001. In
addition, urbanization has increased, so more of the world population
living in cities.
Changed material conditions
been large changes in material
For example, there has been growth in radio and TV receivers per
capita, growth in newspaper circulation per capita among the
developed countries, and tremendous growth in internet
throughout the world.
Improved living conditions
have been in improved
living conditions. For example infant mortality rates has
declined, illiteracy and percent of
without any schooling has declined, especially among less developed
GDP per capita increased and (most
poverty has declined.
Political freedom has also increased in the last
several decades, but this growth has only been moderate.
Slower improvement among less developed countries
However, improvements did not procede equally. For example, in 1960, infant mortality rate (IMR) was about 5 times higher in developing countries than it was among developed countries. In 2000, IMR in developing countries was about 11 times higher than it was in developed countries.
Infant Mortality Rate
( ratio of deaths under 1 year to 1,000 births in the same year.)
N = 156
N = 194
|Developed countries|| 43
|Ratio = IMR of developing countries /
IMR of developed countries
That is, infant mortality rate declined in both developing and developed countries, but it declined faster in developed countries. In addition, unfortunately several countries (e.g., Angola, Botswana, Iraq, Kazakhstan and Zambia) had increases in infant mortality rate.
Also, the illiteracy rate in developing countries changed from about 10 times larger than illiteracy rate in more developed countries in 1970 to about almost 20 times larger in 2000. Again, overall, illiteracy rates declined in both developing and more developed countries, but it declined faster in developed countries.
Similarly, political change
at a much slower pace in less developed countries. While freedom is now
almost universal among developed countries, there has only been
growth in freedom among less developed countries, and only 32% of
in less developed countries live in freedom.
Changing patterns and consequences of conflict
One common trend in conflict has been, in the 1970s to the mid 1990s, an increase in civil wars and refugees, then in the 1990s, a decrease in conflict and refugees. The number of terrorist attacks generally follows this pattern, except that the decline started in the late 1980s. Unfortunately, casualties from terrorism doesn't seem to follow this trend. There have been fewer terrorist attacks, but not fewer casualties. Casualties seem to have increased in Asia, and in the last several years in the Middle East as well.Civil wars have generally involved at most 50 countries in any year, and more generally fewer than 40, out of about 223 countries. That is, most countries were not involved in conflicts, but a significant number were. Similarly, there have generally been 10 to 15 million refugees each year during the 1980s to 2000, out of a world population of 5 to 6 billion. Only a small percent were ever refugees, but the numbers who were refugees were still significant.
However, social change is a very complex process. For example, while general patterns can be described for Less Developed Countries (LDCs), it is much more difficult to describe change in individual countries. Table 2 shows LDCs with declining living conditions in infant mortality rate, education and political freedom. As can be seen, none of the countries had more than one of these changes. At the specific country level, that is, a decline in living conditions in one area does not necessarily relate to a decline in other areas.
Less Developed Countries with declining conditions
|Countries with increased infant mortality rate,
1980 to 2000
|Countries with largest increase in percent without schooling
1980 to 2000
|Countries that changed from partly free
1980 to 2000
|Trinidad and Tobago||
|United Arab Emirates||
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