For a group whose name is rooted in “good news,” we evangelicals can often be overly focused on bad news. This isn’t entirely our fault, of course. From mass shootings to terrorist attacks, political incompetence to racial unrest, there has been no shortage of bad news stories over the past 10 years. Death, destruction, and divisiveness tend to dominate the news cycle, leading us to despair over the direction our world is headed.
But while we should not ignore the bad news, neither should we overlook the good news. We serve a sovereign God who governs all things. As Lamentations 3:37 asks, “Who has spoken and it came to pass, unless the Lord has commanded it?”
Over the past decade, God has provided a range of blessings that have changed a negative trend to a positive one, improving our lives and the lives of our global neighbors. As we reflect on the end of the 2010s, we should give thanks to God for these 15 “good news” trends.
1. As the world’s population continues to rise, more children are surviving into adulthood. The journal JAMA Pediatrics found that from 1990 to 2017, global child and adolescent deaths decreased 51.7 percent, from 13.77 million in 1990 to 6.64 million in 2017. And the number of children dying from pneumonia—the leading cause of child mortality—also decreased from 6,410 per day in 1990 to 2,216 per day in 2017.
2. A decade ago, scientists and government officials feared that the H7N9 bird flu virus could ignite a human pandemic similar to 1918 Spanish flu, which killed 50 million worldwide. But while there were 766 cases of the virus in early 2017, there were a mere three infections recorded in 2018—and none in 2019.
3. Save the Children’s 2019 Global Childhood Report shows the world has made remarkable progress in protecting childhoods. The report finds that circumstances for children have improved in 173 out of 176 countries since 2000, and today there are:
- 4.4 million fewer child deaths per year
- 49 million fewer stunted children
- 130 million more children in school
- 94 million fewer child laborers
- 11 million fewer girls forced into marriage or married early
- 3 million fewer teen births per year
- 12,000 fewer child homicides per year
4. The international homicide rate has dropped 20 percent since 1990. The steepest declines occurred in regions with less crime overall. Between 1990 and 2015, North America and Western Europe experienced a 40 percent reduction in homicides, Asia had a 37.5 percent decline, and Eastern Europe and Oceania had a reduction of 20 percent.
5. According to the UN, HIV-related deaths in 2018 fell to around 770,000, which is 33 percent lower than in 2010 when 1.2 million deaths were recorded. According to the report, an estimated 37.9 million people worldwide now live with HIV, but a record number—23.3 million—have access to antiretroviral therapy, which can control the infection.
6. Stroke rates for U.S. adults older than 65 have decreased by one-third each decade for the last 30 years, and new diabetes cases have declined by 35 percent since 2009, the longest decline since the government started tracking the statistic.
7. Five years ago, about half of India’s 1.3 billion population did not have access to a toilet. The result was a sanitation and public health nightmare, as people had to relieve themselves in fields, bushes, forests, and bodies of water. After efforts by the government to provide more facilities, in 2019 nearly 93 percent of households were found to have access to toilets, while 96.5 percent of the people who had access to toilets used them.
8. Deaths from terrorism halved in the last four years. Deaths in Europe fell by 70 percent, with Western Europe recording its lowest number of incidents since 2012.
9. According to Child Trends, by 2016 the rate of victimization from violent crimes (which include rape, robbery, and aggravated and simple assaults) for adolescents ages 12 to 20 had fallen to a little more than one-sixth of the rate in the mid-1990s—from a high of 181 victimizations per 1,000 population, to 28 victimizations per 1,000. There were major declines in most types of violent crime during this period, including simple assault, aggravated assault, and robbery.
10. The number of people killed in wars is the lowest in seven years. For the fourth year running, the number of battle-related deaths has fallen, and compared with the most recent peak in 2014, the number of fatalities has fallen by 43 percent.
11. The abortion rate in the United States dropped in 2017 to 13.5, the lowest rate recorded since abortion was legalized in 1973. Abortion rates fell in most states and in all four regions of the country.
12. The teen birth rate in the United States is also at a record low, dropping to less than 18 births per 1,000 girls and women ages 15 to 19 for the first time since the government began regularly collecting data on this group.
13. The number of people held in American prisons continues to decline from that population’s peak in 2009, according to Justice Department data. A report from the Bureau of Justice Statistics says “the number of prisoners under state or federal jurisdiction” by the end of 2017 had dropped to 1.48 million people, down from 1.61 million in 2009.
14. A century ago child mortality rates exceeded 10 percent—even in high-income countries such as the United States. But thanks to modern medicine, and better public safety in general, this number has been reduced to almost zero in rich countries.
15. In 1990, the UN’s Millennium Development Goals included a target of halving poverty by 2015. That goal was achieved five years early. In 1990, more than one-third (36 percent) of the world’s population lived in abject poverty; by 2010 the number had been cut in half (18 percent). According to the most recent estimates, in 2015, the number had dropped to 10 percent. Since 1990, nearly 1.1 billion fewer people are living in extreme poverty. In 2015, 736 million people lived on less than $1.90 a day, down from 1.85 billion in 1990. “On every day in the last 25 years,” Roser and Ortiz-Ospina say, “there could have been a newspaper headline reading, ‘The number of people in extreme poverty fell by 128,000 since yesterday.’”