Forget about fake news – have you heard the good news? In 1990, 35% of the world’s people lived in absolute poverty. By 2015, just 9.6% did. By 2015, more than 1.25 billion people were lifted out of extreme poverty, which is roughly 138,000 people per day. The Brookings Institute calculates that half of the world’s population can now be considered middle class. By 2030, extreme poverty is set to be practically eliminated.
While the human population has doubled since 1960, agricultural productivity has exploded such that average total calories consumed per person per day has risen from 2,220 in 1960 to almost 3,000 per day in 2018. Despite this enormous surge in food production, since 2000 around 260,000 sq/km of land – an area slightly larger than Victoria – has been released from agricultural production. At the same time, the World’s 40 million square kilometres of forest have ceased to decrease in size, and are set to begin increasing. Once a country’s GDP per capita exceeds $4,500, its forested area tends to grow. The UK’s forested area has tripled in size since 1919, and this trend is now underway in China, Russia, India, Vietnam, Bangladesh and beyond.
And the good news doesn’t stop there. Global child mortality (under 5) has dropped 58% since 1990, from 93 per 1000 to 39 per 1000 today. In Australia, that number is down from over 25/1000 in 1960 to under 3.7/1000 today – a trend to make any parent sigh with relief.
Did you hear we are living longer too? Worldwide life expectancy is now over 72 years at birth, up from just 48 years in 1950.
There’s more: 90% of girls now complete primary school globally, up from 75% just 20 years ago. As a result, the number of women in the labour force has never been higher and more children than ever are vaccinated, with diseases such as smallpox now extinct.
Finally, the number of passenger cars in use has increased from 650 million, to over a billion in the past decade and the number of air passengers has more than doubled from 2 billion in 2004 to over 4.3 billion this year.
Put all this good news together and how do you access the investment opportunities provided by the awesome progress humanity is making? BetaShares has three global equity funds that seek to benefit over time from the world’s growing prosperity: The BetaShares Global Agriculture ETF (ASX: FOOD), the BetaShares Global Healthcare ETF (ASX: DRUG) and the BetaShares Global Energy Companies ETF (ASX: FUEL).
As soon as people escape poverty, their demand for food and access to medicine, electricity and transportation increases. As this global megatrend towards broader prosperity continues, global agricultural businesses will continue to supply more customers, while more people with more money and more life in front of them demand more healthcare. And finally, global energy companies will continue to supply the growing amounts of power to do it all.