The global mortality rate of infants and youth up to the age of 15, based on an average of many studies, was almost one-half (46.2%) for the two millennia up to about 1900. By 1950, it was 27%. By 2017, it had fallen to 4.6%.
The global infant mortality rate for children under the age of 1, again based on the average of many studies, was more than one-quarter (26.9%) for the two millennia up to about 1900. By 1950, it was 16%. By 2017, it had fallen to 2.9%
Here's a figure showing the patterns from Max Roser at the "Our World in Data" website (June 11, 2019). Of course, you will need to expand the version here, or go to the other website, to see the details.
I'll put off all the arguments over reasons why this happened and what it means for public policy for another day. It's Father's Day today, I just want to take a few minutes and marvel at this fundamental change in what it means to be a parent in the 21st century, especially in a high-income country. My children were much less likely to die.
A version of this article first appeared on Conversable Economist.
Timothy Taylor is an American economist. He is managing editor of the Journal of Economic Perspectives, a quarterly academic journal produced at Macalester College and published by the American Economic Association. Taylor received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Haverford College and a master's degree in economics from Stanford University. At Stanford, he was winner of the award for excellent teaching in a large class (more than 30 students) given by the Associated Students of Stanford University. At Minnesota, he was named a Distinguished Lecturer by the Department of Economics and voted Teacher of the Year by the master's degree students at the Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs. Taylor has been a guest speaker for groups of teachers of high school economics, visiting diplomats from eastern Europe, talk-radio shows, and community groups. From 1989 to 1997, Professor Taylor wrote an economics opinion column for the San Jose Mercury-News. He has published multiple lectures on economics through The Teaching Company. With Rudolph Penner and Isabel Sawhill, he is co-author of Updating America's Social Contract (2000), whose first chapter provided an early radical centrist perspective, "An Agenda for the Radical Middle". Taylor is also the author of The Instant Economist: Everything You Need to Know About How the Economy Works, published by the Penguin Group in 2012. The fourth edition of Taylor's Principles of Economics textbook was published by Textbook Media in 2017.