Is the world getting better or worse?

2013-10-14 FOR the past half century, a fundamental debate has raged between optimists and pessimists over the state of the world. Pessimists build their case on overpopulation, starvation and depletion of resources. Optimists stand for the infallibility of the market economy. Wouldn't it be nice to remove the darkened or rose-tinted spectacles for once, and try to quantify how the world really has done and will do in future? I asked some of the world's leading economists to do just that. The result is a groundbreaking book, How Much Have Global Problems Cost The World? A scorecard from 1900 to 2050.