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Premium Digital. Team or Enterprise. Premium FT. Pay based on use. Group Subscription. One hundred years ago, the average American died at age Enjoy your golden years -- your ancestors didn't get any of them. There are about 11, births in America each day, so this improvement means more than , infants now survive each year who wouldn't have 80 years ago.
That's like adding a city the size of Boise, Idaho, every year. If the murder rate had not fallen, 47, more Americans would have been killed in the last decade than actually were. That's more than the population of Biloxi, Miss. Despite a surge in airline travel, there were half as many fatal plane accidents in than there were in , according to the Aviation Safety Network.
No one has died from a new nuclear weapon attack since You don't have to be very imaginative to think that the most important news story of the past 70 years is what didn't happen. Congratulations, world. People worry that the U. I can think of worse scenarios. Two percent of American homes had electricity in P Morgan the man was one of the first to install electricity in his home, and it required a private power plant on his property. It wasn't until the s that virtually all homes were powered.
Adjusted for wage growth, electricity cost more than 10 times as much in as it does today, according to professor Julian Simon. According to the Federal Reserve, the number of lifetime years spent in leisure -- retirement plus time off during your working years -- rose from 11 years in to 35 years by Given the rise in life expectancy, it's probably close to 40 years today. If you had told this to the average American years ago, that person would have considered you wealthy beyond imagination. From to , an average of , people died each year globally from "extreme weather events. It's nearly double that amount today.
If you dig into how the average "prosperous" American family lived in the s, I think you'll find a standard of living we'd call "poverty" today. Reported rape per , Americans dropped from Robbery has dropped from per , in to in There were nearly 4 million fewer property crimes in than there were in , which is amazing when you consider the U. According to the Census Bureau, only one in 10 American homes had air conditioning in Simple improvements like this have changed our lives in immeasurable ways.
According to the Census Bureau, the average new home now has more bathrooms than occupants. According to the Census Bureau, in there was one housing unit for every five Americans. Today, there's one for every three. In the average home had 1. By it was down to 0.
East Germany and the rest of Eastern Europe became Soviet puppet states under communist rule. Western Europe was rebuilt with the aid of the American Marshall Plan , resulting in a major post-war economic boom , and many of the affected nations became close allies of the United States. With the Axis defeated and Britain and France rebuilding, the United States and the Soviet Union were left standing as the world's only superpowers. Allies during the war, they soon became hostile to one another as their competing ideologies of communism and democratic capitalism proliferated in Europe, which became divided by the Iron Curtain and the Berlin Wall.
The period was marked by a new arms race as the USSR became the second nation to develop nuclear weapons, which were produced by both sides in sufficient numbers to end most human life on the planet had a large-scale nuclear exchange ever occurred. Mutually assured destruction is credited by many historians as having prevented such an exchange, each side being unable to strike first at the other without ensuring an equally devastating retaliatory strike. Unable to engage one another directly, the conflict played out in a series of proxy wars around the world—particularly in China , Korea , Cuba , Vietnam , and Afghanistan —as the USSR sought to export communism while the US attempted to contain it.
The technological competition between the two sides led to substantial investment in research and development which produced innovations that reached far beyond the battlefield, such as space exploration and the Internet. In the latter half of the century, most of the European-colonized world in Africa and Asia gained independence in a process of decolonization.
Meanwhile, globalization opened the door for several nations to exert a strong influence over many world affairs. The US's global military presence spread American culture around the world with the advent of the Hollywood motion picture industry , Broadway , rock and roll , pop music , fast food , big-box stores , and the hip-hop lifestyle. Britain also continued to influence world culture , including the " British Invasion " into American music , leading many rock bands from other countries such as Swedish ABBA to sing in English.
After the Soviet Union collapsed under internal pressure in , most of the communist governments it had supported around the world were dismantled —with the notable exceptions of China , North Korea , Cuba , Vietnam , and Laos —followed by awkward transitions into market economies. Following World War II, the United Nations , successor to the League of Nations , was established as an international forum in which the world's nations could discuss issues diplomatically.
It enacted resolutions on such topics as the conduct of warfare, environmental protection, international sovereignty , and human rights.
Peacekeeping forces consisting of troops provided by various countries, with various United Nations and other aid agencies, helped to relieve famine, disease, and poverty, and to suppress some local armed conflicts. Europe slowly united, economically and, in some ways, politically, to form the European Union , which consisted of 15 European countries by the end of the 20th century.
Quality-of-life Index. Archived from the original PDF on June 16, Particularly important was the discovery of the germ theory of disease in the second half of the 19th century. Jarrett hadn't slept the night before and was in pain. Some poets are easy to love; Seidel is so good you revere him despite yourself. There have been worrisome increases in family breakup, abortions, illegitimate births, and teen suicide, for example.
In the last third of the century, concern about humankind's impact on the Earth's environment made environmentalism popular. In many countries, especially in Europe, the movement was channeled into politics through Green parties. Increasing awareness of global warming began in the s, commencing decades of social and political debate.
Due to continuing industrialization and expanding trade, many significant changes of the century were, directly or indirectly, economic and technological in nature. Inventions such as the light bulb , the automobile , and the telephone in the late 19th century, followed by supertankers , airliners , motorways, radio , television , antibiotics , nuclear power , frozen food , computers and microcomputers , the Internet , and mobile telephones affected people's quality of life across the developed world.
Scientific research, engineering professionalization and technological development—much of it motivated by the Cold War arms race—drove changes in everyday life. At the beginning of the century, strong discrimination based on race and sex was significant in general society. Although the Atlantic slave trade had ended in the 19th century, the fight for equality for non-white people in the white-dominated societies of North America , Europe, and South Africa continued.
During the century, the social taboo of sexism fell. By the end of the 20th century, women had the same legal rights as men in many parts of the world, and racism had come to be seen as abhorrent. Communications and information technology, transportation technology, and medical advances had radically altered daily lives. Europe appeared to be at a sustainable peace for the first time in recorded history. The people of the Indian subcontinent , a sixth of the world population at the end of the 20th century, had attained an indigenous independence for the first time in centuries.
China, an ancient nation comprising a fifth of the world population, was finally open to the world , creating a new state after the near-complete destruction of the old cultural order. With the end of colonialism and the Cold War, nearly a billion people in Africa were left in new nation states after centuries of foreign domination.
The world was undergoing its second major period of globalization ; the first, which started in the 18th century, having been terminated by World War I. Since the US was in a dominant position, a major part of the process was Americanization. The influence of China and India was also rising, as the world's largest populations were rapidly integrating with the world economy. Terrorism , dictatorship , and the spread of nuclear weapons were pressing global issues.
The world was still blighted by small-scale wars and other violent conflicts, fueled by competition over resources and by ethnic conflicts. Despots such as Kim Jong-il of North Korea continued to lead their nations toward the development of nuclear weapons. Disease threatened to destabilize many regions of the world.
Malaria and other diseases affected large populations. The virus was becoming an epidemic in southern Africa. Based on research done by climate scientists, the majority of the scientific community consider that in the long term environmental problems may threaten the planet's habitability.
World population increased from about 1. The number of people killed during the century by government actions was in the hundreds of millions. This includes deaths caused by wars, genocide, politicide and mass murders. The deaths from acts of war during the two world wars alone have been estimated at between 50 and 80 million [ citation needed ]. Political scientist Rudolph Rummel estimated ,, deaths caused by democide , which excludes those killed in war battles, civilians unintentionally killed in war and killings of rioting mobs. Most likely a comparable number of civilians died of war-induced disease and other indirect effects.
The invention of music recording technologies such as the phonograph record , and dissemination technologies such as radio broadcasting , massively expanded the audience for music. Prior to the 20th century, music was generally only experienced in live performances. Many new genres of music were established during the 20th century. Film as an artistic medium was created in the 20th century. The first modern movie theatre was established in Pittsburgh in While the first films were in black and white , technicolor was developed in the s to allow for color films.
Sound films were developed, with the first full-length feature film, The Jazz Singer , released in The Academy Awards were established in Video games—due to the great technological steps forward in computing since the second post-war period—are the new form of entertainment emerged in the 20th century alongside films. Multiple new fields of mathematics were developed in the 20th century. In the first part of the 20th century, measure theory , functional analysis , and topology were established, and significant developments were made in fields such as abstract algebra and probability.
Later in the 20th century, the development of computers led to the establishment of a theory of computation. One of the prominent traits of the 20th century was the dramatic growth of technology.
Organized research and practice of science led to advancement in the fields of communication, electronics, engineering, travel, medicine, and war. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. For other uses, see 20th century disambiguation.
For a timeline of 20th-century events, see Timeline of the 20th century. Main article: 20th-century events. See also: Timeline of the 20th century. World powers and empires in , just before the First World War.