Timothy Taylor's recent blog post highlights the magnitude of economic growth in China over the past 40 years. I have included the most impressive excerpt below.
Although this rise has been happening right in front of our eyes for almost 40 years, it has changed the lives of more than a billion people in ways that are not fully appreciated. Here are a few measures of how life in China changed between about 1980 and the present, according to World Bank data:
- The share of China’s population below the poverty line, modestly defined as having a consumption level of $3.10 per capita per day, has fallen from 99 percent of the population to 11 percent.
- Per capita GDP has risen from $200 per person to $8,200 per person.
- Life expectancy has risen from 66 years to 76 years.
- Infant mortality per 1,000 live births has fallen from 48 to 9.
- The literacy rate for those 15 and older has risen from 66 percent to 96 percent.
- The share of China’s total population over age 25 who have completed a secondary-level (high school) education has risen from 6 percent to 22 percent.
Such a list could be extended, of course. But the bottom line is that more than a billion people in China have risen out of a combination of grinding poverty, poor health and low levels of education to what the World Bank classifies as “upper middle income.” A Chinese person who was a young adult back in 1980 has observed the entire process in his or her own lifetime — and hasn’t yet reached retirement age.