Things are bad, and it feels like they are getting worse, right? The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer; and the number of poor just keeps increasing…. At least that's the picture that most Westerners see in the media and carry around in their heads. I call it the overdramatic worldview. It's stressful and misleading. In fact, the vast majority of the world's population lives somewhere in the middle of the income scale.... Their girls go to school, their children get vaccinated, they live in two‐child families, and they want to go abroad on holiday, not as refugees. Step‐by‐step, year‐by‐year, the world is improving.
—Hans Rosling, Factfulness: Ten Reasons We're Wrong About the World, and Why Things Are Better Than You Think
ONSTAGE AT NEW YORK City's Four Seasons Hotel, standing before 300 of the world's largest institutional investors, is the last place in the world you might expect to see a person in my line of work. But there I was, in the fall of 2019, preparing to speak to a room full of Wall Street heavyweights about alleviating poverty and improving human health. A tough gig, to put it mildly.
I'd just stepped off a plane from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and I was reeling. Only a few days before, I'd been in a makeshift border town a stone's throw from Zambia. A narrow road wended through the shrubs and cassava fields until, suddenly, there were miles of trucks ...