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Uplifting map of the day: fewer children die each year


It has been a pretty tough news stretch this summer. There are plenty of reasons to look at what is happening and get depressed. But it is not all bad. Yes, the US launching military strikes against the Islamic Sate is worrisome. So is the ongoing Ebola outbreak in West Africa, Syria’s civil war, global warming and Ferguson, MO.

Everything is not bad. You might already know this little fact, but the rate of children dying around the world is the lowest ever. A child born everywhere has a better chance of surviving than they did even a decade ago. That is pretty awesome. As the map by Our World Data shows, child mortality has dropped across the world in the past few decades.

How good is it? In the 1960’s roughly one out of every four children born in sub-Saharan Africa died before reaching five years old. Today, the chances are better than one in ten for the region. That is amazing progress and countries continue doing better. Not sufficiently impressed? How about taking a gander at this graph:


It doesn’t even matter if you can’t really read it (though you can click on it to see a bigger version). All the lines are going down and nearing zero. That is great news.

There is still a lot of work to be done. UNICEF estimates show that 6.6 million children under the age of five died in 2012. They say that more than half of the deaths could have been prevented. That too is actually good news. There is still a big problem, but the solutions are known. Averting some 3 million child deaths each year will not happen with the snap of a finger, but it is something that can be achieved in the near future.

So, while it is easy to think about all the bad things happening around the world, remember that more children now have the opportunity to live happy and healthy lives by simply making it to their fifth birthday. Many will face difficult challenges, but more have a chance. That is something to celebrate.


About Author

Tom Murphy

Tom Murphy is a New Hampshire-based reporter for Humanosphere. Before joining Humanosphere, Tom founded and edited the aid blog A View From the Cave. His work has appeared in Foreign Policy, the Huffington Post, the Guardian, GlobalPost and Christian Science Monitor. He tweets at @viewfromthecave. Contact him at tmurphy[at]