The history of capitalism, as portrayed in academia and among much of the media, is a sad story. It’s one of smokestacks, sweatshops, child labor, robber barons, social stratification and general exploitation of workers.
But this amazing chart, put together by Max Roser, a fellow at the Institute for New Economic Thinking at Oxford University’s Martin School, tells a much different story — one of industrialization being associated with a rapid decline in poverty.
In 1820, according to data compiled by Roser*, the share of the global population living in poverty was 94 percent while 84 percent lived in “extreme” poverty. By 1992, the poverty rate had dropped to 51 percent, while the “extreme” poverty rate had dropped to 24 percent. Using a different measure of international poverty, the rate has dropped from 53 percent in 1981 to 17 percent in 2011 – representing the most rapid reduction in poverty in world history.