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The Wealth of Generations. Capitalism and the Belief in the Future

The 22nd Annual Johyn Bonython Lecture delivered by Johan Norberg
In this lecture, with optimism and humour, Johan Norberg looks forward to a future which can only improve with greater freedom, increased knowledge, wealth and technology on our side.

By any measure – health, wealth, happiness and the environment – we are the most enviable generation ever. Globalisation and capitalism have brought poor countries greater wealth than before, a fact that has been drowned out by the claims of anti-globalisation protestors.

The proportion in absolute poverty in developing countries has been reduced from 40 to 21% since 1981. Almost 400 million people have left poverty – the biggest poverty reduction in mankind’s history. In the past 30 years chronic hunger has been halved, and so has the extent of child labour. Since 1950 illiteracy has been reduced from 70 to 23%, and infant mortality has been reduced by two-thirds.

Socialism and the claims of Marx, who argued that capitalism would make the rich richer, and the poorer, are proven wrong. The reality is that as the rich get richer, the poor get richer even faster.