We were on the most sustained and widespread outbreak of prosperity the world has ever seen (Pinker, 2018). The seven decades since the end of the Second World War brought greater improvements in living standards to more people than could previously have been imagined. In the two decades to 2020 alone, global poverty rates were cut by more than half (United Nations, 2021). This may have been cold comfort to those left behind, but the world was undisputedly on an unprecedented arc of improvement. Nevertheless, COVID-19 rapidly turned that rising path of improvement sharply downwards in the closing weeks of 2019.
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