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Since the beginning of the age of the Enlightenment and over the course of modernization, the mortality of children below 5 years of age has declined rapidly.
Child mortality in rich countries today is much lower than 1%.
In 2015 child mortality was down to 4.3% – 10-fold lower than 2 centuries ago.
You have to take this long perspective to see the progress that we have achieved.
This makes it possible to see the child mortality rate for each country. It is also possible to see which share of the world population had a child mortality rate lower than a given level.
For the orange line – referring to data from 1950-60 – we see that close to 70% of the world population have a child mortality rate of higher than 10% back then.
In our entry on food price volatility you find a long-run series in Pisa that shows how frequent food crises were.
Over the last decades we have seen a very rapid decline of child mortality globally.Other countries were stuck in poor health: More than half of the world (57%) had child mortality that were still higher than 20%.The world was clearly divided into developed and developing countries. Particularly those countries that had the worst health in the 1950s experienced the most dramatic improvements.A media that would report global development could have had the headline “The number of children dying globally fell by 455 since yesterday” and they wouldn’t have this headline once, but every single day over these more than 2 decades.Big countries like Brazil and China reduced their child mortality rates 10-fold over the last 4 decades.
This is partly because the data quality is improving over time but it also shows how frequent crises were in pre-modern times.