Famine is scarce today outside of war zones, thanks to a number of factors based on human progress, which turns out to be the name of a website, Human Progress, that tracks many positive trends in society.
According to their research, the population-weighted food supply increased by 30% from 1961 to 2013, and the world’s poorest region, sub-Saharan Africa, has the same access to food today as Portugal did in 1961.
The researchers attribute this to five factors, including increased agricultural productivity due to better farming methods, increased wealth around the world, cheaper food, which is related to better supply, improved transport and communications, and the spread of democracy and a free press.
The last two attributes hold governments more accountable than ever for starving their populations or implementing ruinous programs.
With today’s communication, it’s questionable if Mao Zedong could have enforced his Great Leap Forward, which resulted in the mass starvation of between 23 million and 55 million people.
Our progress flies in the face of experts like Paul Erlich who famously claimed in 1968 that hundreds of millions of people would die from hunger in the 1970s. At the time, 34 out of 152 countries averaged less than 2,000 calories per person per day. In 2013, only two countries out of 173 fell below that threshold.