That Point In History Where Our Standard Of Living Improved

The third period, in which we all live, is characterized by an unprecedented phenomenon: sustained economic growth. Quality of life went from improving very gradually if at all for the vast majority of human history to improving very, very quickly.

Dylan Matthews – About 200 years ago, the world started getting rich. Why?

That quote comes from a recent article that summarizes the thinking from a book titled How the World Became Rich. As readers of my Blog know, I believe this look at history helps us understand possible futures. In this case, what history tells us about our potential to further advance human development. Another recent book titled The Journey Of Humanity took a similar look at history and attempted to explain this path to standard of living improvement. The earlier book makes it clear – the world has changed considerably in the last 200 years:

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The Journey Of Humanity

Since the dawn of the nineteenth century, a split second compared to the span of human existence, life expectancy has more than doubled, and per capita incomes have soared twenty-fold in the most developed regions of the world, and fourteen-fold on Planet Earth as a whole

Oded Galor – The Journey of Humanity

That quote comes from a book I just finished titled The Journey of Humanity. Author Oded Galor explores the origins of wealth and inequality. He takes a fascinating journey from our migration out of Africa, through the Neolithic and Industrial Revolutions, to modern day. Along the way, he describes how technological advancements and higher land productivity led to larger but not richer populations. The fact that standard of living improvement only occurred during a tiny stretch of recent human history – and the reasons why – are explored in detail. A somewhat perplexing fact that hunter-gatherers evidently lived longer, consumed a richer diet, worked less intensively, and suffered fewer infectious diseases, is echoed in the book titled Work by James Suzman.

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Reversing The Aging Process

Advances in life sciences have scientist believing that the first person to Live to 200 has already been born. This Healthy Life Extension scenario has major societal implications. In this scenario, we are not just enabling people to live longer, but we will also be healthier. This healthy longevity challenges traditional views of retirement, wealth, savings, our social contract, and the phases of our lives, among other things. Now, you may ask, how is it possible to extend our lives in a healthy manner? In a Post from 2018, I shared a perspective from Johnty Andersen, Biotechnology, Nanotechnology and Anti-Aging Medicine researcher:

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The Intersection of Longevity and Finance

I have a fundamental belief that we will not solve the challenges ahead using the institutions and mechanisms of the past. These structures served us during a manufacturing era that looked very different than the world that has emerged in the last three decades. In a recent Article authored by Margaretta Colangelo, she provides an example of this phenomenon. In a time when populations are living much longer than previous generations, leaders are beginning to realize that institutions must be organized in a different way. Ms. Colangelo provides an example in the Finance space, stating that traditional banks weren’t designed to serve a large number of clients living a long time. Today, banks have a small number of clients who are over 100 and they are outliers. In the next decade that demographic will increase dramatically.

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The Greatest Wealth Transfer in History

We spend so much time focused on disruption driven by advancement in science and technology – that we can lose sight of the massive amount of societal factors to be considered. When looking at the interplay between an exponential progression of innovation and those factors that impact society, we can see that the impacts run in Both Directions.

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