Getting Better Book Summary - Getting Better Book explained in key points
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Getting Better summary

Charles Kenny

Why Global Development Is Succeeding and How We Can Improve the World Even More

16 mins

Brief summary

Getting Better by Charles Kenny explores the progress made in global health, education, longevity, and equality. It argues that despite challenges, the world is getting better and offers insights into how we can continue this positive trend.

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    Getting Better
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    The income gap between rich and poor countries around the globe is nothing new.

    Most people know that there is not only an income gap within economies but also across different countries. But do you know how large this gap actually is?

    Here’s a fact that’ll shock you: around 1 billion people in the world live on less than a dollar a day.

    But how is this possible when Western countries have developed so much over the past fifty years?

    One reason is that there has been a forty-year stagnation in African incomes since the 1960s. For example, Senegal had an income per capita of $1,776 in 1960 and $1,407 in 2004. The gross domestic product (GDP) per capita in the United States, in contrast, was around seven times greater than in Senegal in 1960 and around twenty-six times larger in 2004. And while the average rural Zambian can expect to earn an approximate lifetime income of about $10,000, the average resident of New York City will earn $4.5 million.

    Another reason why the gap is so large is that rich countries have always grown more rapidly than poor countries have.

    In fact, the richest-poorest gap between countries grew from around thirty-three-fold in 1950 to around 127-fold today.

    For example, in 1850, the Netherlands was the richest country in the world, with an income per capita of $2,371. In 2008, income per capita in the Netherlands was $24,695, while in that same year, in Congo-Zaire, income per capita was only $249. Or consider India in the 1990s: in 1993, India's bottom 40-percent had an income comparable to that of an English peasant in the 1400s!

    Now that you know more about the actual gap between the richest and poorest countries in the world, you understand how lucky you are if you live in one of the richer countries.

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    What is Getting Better about?

    As pessimists talk of an economic development crisis, author Charles Kenny is optimistic in his assessment that in fact, all over the world, we’ve made enormous progress in overall quality of life. Getting Better shows that the spread of technology and ideas has fostered a revolution of happiness and standard of living unprecedented in human history. Kenny provides evidence to make us enthusiastic about the progress we’ve attained so far, and offers suggestions on what is to be done if we want to keep this progress alive.

    Getting Better Review

    Getting Better (2011) by Charles Kenny is a thought-provoking exploration of the progress humanity has made over the years and the potential for continued growth. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • It offers a refreshing perspective on the various aspects of global improvement, challenging common misconceptions and providing a balanced view.
    • With its thorough research and data-driven analysis, the book presents a compelling case for optimism about the future, shining a light on the positive trends shaping our world.
    • By focusing on the real-life impact of development efforts and policy changes, the book brings abstract concepts to life and offers actionable insights for creating positive change.

    Best quote from Getting Better

    Life has been getting better, pretty much everywhere at pretty much the same rate.

    —Charles Kenny
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    Who should read Getting Better?

    • Anyone interested in international politics and development aid
    • Anyone looking for a fresh and optimistic outlook on the world
    • Anyone interested in economics and global development

    About the Author

    Formerly with the World Bank, American economist Charles Kenny is a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development and the New America Foundation. He writes for the magazine Foreign Policy and has published many articles in various publications addressing the correlation of economic growth, health and happiness.

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    Getting Better FAQs 

    What is the main message of Getting Better?

    The main message of Getting Better is that progress and improvement are possible in all areas of life.

    How long does it take to read Getting Better?

    The reading time for Getting Better varies depending on the reader's speed, but it typically takes several hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Getting Better a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Getting Better is worth reading because it provides valuable insights and actionable steps to enhance personal growth and change.

    Who is the author of Getting Better?

    The author of Getting Better is Charles Kenny.

    What to read after Getting Better?

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