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Max Roser is an economist, philosopher, and media critic. He is known for his research on global trends of living conditions and his visualisations of these trends.[1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8] He is currently a research director in economics at the University of Oxford.[9][10][11]

Max Roser
InstitutionNuffield College, Oxford
Oxford Martin School
FieldEconomics of income distribution, poverty, global development
InfluencesTony Atkinson, Amartya Sen, Steven Pinker, Angus Deaton

Roser was born in Kirchheimbolanden, Germany. Der Spiegel reported that he travelled the length of the Nile from the mouth to the source, and that he crossed the Himalayas and the Andes.[12] Roser graduated with degrees in geoscience, economics, and philosophy.[12]

He is critical of the mass media's excessive focus on single events which he claims is not helpful in understanding the state of the world and how the world is changing.[13][14] In contrast to this event-focussed rubbernecking Roser advocates the adoption of a broader, more holistic perspective on the living conditions around the world:[14] This perspective means looking at inequality and a particular focus on those living in poverty. The focus on the upper classes, especially in historical perspective, is misleading since it is not exposing the hardship of those in the worst living conditions. Secondly, he advocates looking at larger trends in poverty, education, health and violence since these are slowly, but persistently changing the world and are neglected in the reporting of today's mass media.[14]

Roser is the author of Our World In Data, a web publication about how living conditions around the world are changing. The publication covers a wide range of aspects of development: global health, food provision, the growth and distribution of incomes, violence, rights, wars, technology, education, and environmental changes, among others. The publication makes use of data visualisations which are licensed under Creative Commons and are widely used in media publications and teaching material.[15] An important aspect of this publication is that Roser points out the limits of quantitative information. The publication has more than 1.5 million readers every month (November 2018).[16]

In his advocacy of prioritising the perspective on slowly evolving structures over the media's "event history" he is following the agenda of the French Annales School with their focus on the longue durée. Roser is a regular speaker at conferences where he presents empirical data on how the world is changing.[17][18]

His research is concerned with rising income inequality.[19][20][21] He maintains that in many important aspects the world has made important progress in improving living conditions and documents this by visualizing the empirical evidence for these long-term trends.[22][23] Roser has said that his work is not about saying that we live in a perfect world, but that his aim is to point out the direction of change around the world.[24] Roser has said that the world's most severe problem is global poverty.[25]

He said that there are three messages of his work: 'The world is much better; The world is awful; The world can be much better'. These views motivate his work and he writes that 'it is because the world is terrible still that it is so important to write about how the world became a better place.'[26] In his most-quoted text he writes "For our history to be a source of encouragement we have to know our history. The story that we tell ourselves about our history and our time matters. Because our hopes and efforts for building a better future are inextricably linked to our perception of the past it is important to understand and communicate the global development up to now. […] Freedom is impossible without faith in free people. And if we are not aware of our history and falsely believe the opposite of what is true we risk losing faith in each other."[27]

Tina Rosenberg emphasised in The New York Times that Roser’s work presents a “big picture that’s an important counterpoint to the constant barrage of negative world news”. Nobel laureate Angus Deaton cites Roser in his book The Great Escape and Steven Pinker placed Roser’s Our World In Data on his list of his personal “cultural highlights”.[28]

Roser regularly consults private sector companies, governments, and the United Nations on global change. UN Secretary-General António Guterres invites him to internal retreats attended by the heads of the UN institutions to speak about his global development research.[29] Bill Gates referred to Max Roser as "one his favorite economists".[30]

Roser has criticized the practice of focusing on the international poverty line alone. In his research he suggests a poverty at 10.89 international-$ per day.[31] The researchers say this is the minimum level people needed to have access to basic healthcare. The reason for the low global poverty line is to focus the attention on the world's very poorest population.[32] He proposes using several different poverty lines to understand what is happening to global poverty.


  1. ^ "What does data show about the state of the world?". World Economic Forum. Retrieved 2015-09-27.
  2. ^ "La pauvreté n'a jamais été à un niveau aussi bas dans l'histoire". Slate. 2015-04-12. Retrieved 2015-09-27.
  3. ^ Roser, Max (2015-03-27). "Income inequality: poverty falling faster than ever but the 1% are racing ahead". The Guardian. Retrieved 2015-09-27.
  4. ^ Pinker, Steven (2015-03-20). "Guess what? More people are living in peace now. Just look at the numbers". The Guardian. Retrieved 2015-09-27.
  5. ^ Rosenberg, Tina (2015-04-09). "Turning to Big, Big Data to See What Ails the World". The New York Times. Retrieved 2015-09-27.
  6. ^ "Here's how many people have died in war in the last 600 years". Washington Post. Retrieved 2015-09-27.
  7. ^ "How Obama's optimism about the world explains his foreign policy". Vox. 2015-02-10. Retrieved 2015-09-27.
  8. ^ "Zbog ebole i terorizma čini nam se da je svijet užasan, ali istina je suprotna: Nikad nam nije bilo ovako dobro". Jutarnji list. Retrieved 2015-09-27.
  9. ^ "Dr Max Roser | People". Oxford Martin School. Retrieved 2019-03-10.
  10. ^ "About". Retrieved 2015-09-27.
  11. ^ Interview on the website of the University of Oxford:
  12. ^ a b Schmundt, Hilmar (2016-01-02). "Statistiken Frohe Botschaft". Der Spiegel. 1. Retrieved 2016-02-19.
  13. ^ "Dr Max Roser | People | Institute for New Economic Thinking at the Oxford Martin School". Institute for New Economic Thinking at the Oxford Martin School. Retrieved 2015-09-27.
  14. ^ a b c "Data Stories #57: Visualizing Human Development with Max Roser". Data Stories. Retrieved 2015-10-24.
  15. ^ "Media Coverage of — Our World in Data". Retrieved 2015-09-27.
  16. ^ " Analytics - Market Share Stats & Traffic Ranking". Retrieved 2018-11-06.
  17. ^ "Max Roser WIRED 2015 talk: good data will make you an economic optimist (Wired UK)". Wired UK. 2015-10-15. Retrieved 2015-10-24.
  18. ^ "Roser Speaking – page". Retrieved 2015-10-24.
  19. ^ Roser, Max (2015-03-27). "Income inequality: poverty falling faster than ever but the 1% are racing ahead". The Guardian. Retrieved 2015-09-27.
  20. ^ Roser, Max; Cuaresma, Jesus Crespo (2014-12-01). "Why is Income Inequality Increasing in the Developed World?" (PDF). Review of Income and Wealth. 62: 1–27. doi:10.1111/roiw.12153. ISSN 1475-4991.
  21. ^ Kaminska, Izabella (2015-01-23). "Give the middle classes their fair share of the pie". Financial Times. ISSN 0307-1766. Retrieved 2015-09-27.
  22. ^ Roser, Max (2014). "It's a cold, hard fact: our world is becoming a better place". Retrieved 2015-09-27.
  23. ^ "Lowering World Poverty Depends on India". BloombergView. 2015-10-27. Retrieved 2016-03-12.
  24. ^ ""Wichtig ist, was nicht passiert" | Welt-Sichten". Retrieved 2015-09-27.
  25. ^ "Die Menschheit war früher viel gewalttätiger". Sueddeutsche Zeitung. Retrieved 2015-09-27.
  26. ^ "The world is much better; The world is awful; The world can be much better". Our World in Data. Retrieved 2018-11-07.
  27. ^ "The short history of global living conditions and why it matters that we know it". Our World in Data. Retrieved 2018-11-07.
  28. ^ Pinker, Steven (2015-08-23). "On my radar: Steven Pinker's cultural highlights". The Guardian. Retrieved 2015-09-27.
  29. ^ "The past and future of global change – Max's slides for his talk at the UN". Our World in Data. Retrieved 2018-11-06.
  30. ^ @BillGates (21 April 2018). "Data nerds like me will enjoy this @planetmoney episode featuring one of my favorite economists, @MaxCRoser" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  31. ^ Olivier Sterck, Max Roser, Mthuli Ncube, Stefan Thewissen. Allocation of development assistance for health: is the predominance of national income justified? Health Policy and Planning, Volume 33, Issue suppl_1, 1 February 2018, Pages i14–i23,
  32. ^

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