Hope for the 2020s: Why the next 10 years may be the best decade ever

Hope for the 2020s: Why the next 10 years may be the best decade ever

If you’re feeling pessimistic about the future, you’re not alone. It’s not hard to find a reason to worry. Look at any news source, and within minutes you will notice:

  • Political bickering and polarized viewpoints
  • Geopolitical confrontations and trade disputes
  • Unrest and protests
  • Climate catastrophes
  • Racial tensions
  • Economic concerns

More and more during client meetings, I pick up on this pessimism. At least once a week, I talk with an investor who is wondering if now is the time to pull their assets out of the market.

Despite widespread cynicism, this last decade was the best on record by almost all measures. In a recent opinion piece for the Wall Street Journal, “The 2010s Have Been Amazing,” (paywall) author Johan Norberg argues that worldwide, “health, wealth and the environment are all better than ever.”

For instance, do you believe violent crime is increasing or decreasing? Most people have the sense that crime is going up. This is not the case. In fact, according to Pew Research Center data, both violent crime and property crime rates have dropped dramatically since the 1990s.

Here are some other ways the last 10 years were great:

  1. The percentage of people in extreme poverty was cut in half, down to 8.6 percent worldwide.
  2. As of 2018, more than half of the world’s population can now be considered “middle class.”
  3. Access to water, sanitation and healthcare has increased dramatically. For instance, HIV/AIDs deaths in Africa were cut in half.
  4. Death rates from air pollution declined by almost 20 percent worldwide.
  5. The percentage of adults in the U.S. attaining a Bachelor’s Degree is the highest ever for all categories (gender, race, etc).

These are just a few. If you need more, USA Today compiled 20 other ways that life improved during the last decade.

Why don’t we hear more about affirming trends like these? For one, positive changes happen slowly and less dramatically than negative stories. It’s no secret that bad news sells better than feel-good pieces. Media industry struggles in the internet age have only made sensationalism more rampant, as outlets fight for clicks and advertising dollars. This is one reason “fake news” spread so easily during the last election cycle!

Our brains also seem better at watching for potential threats  than celebrating past wins. You can imagine how incredibly valuable it was for our hunter-gatherer ancestors to keep their “heads on a swivel”, always watching for rival hunters or predators. In our modern context, this tendency can cause us to overestimate risks.

Regardless of why we focus on the bad news, my encouragement today is to not forget all of the good things going on in the world. That’s not to say the challenges facing us aren’t significant. I’m not advocating burying our heads in the sand. However, I am personally more optimistic about the future. 

There are a lot of challenges facing the human race. But we are making great strides and have many reasons to hope for good things in the 2020s.

Trying to read the crystal ball on your own future…and your finances? Book a consultation with one of our Wealth Advisers to find out how they can help you in the coming decade.

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