Max Roser

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Max Roser
Born Kirchheimbolanden, Germany
Institution Nuffield College, Oxford
Oxford Martin School
Field Economics of income distribution, poverty, global development
Influences Tony Atkinson, Amartya Sen, Steven Pinker, Angus Deaton

Max Roser is an economist 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 fellow in economics at the University of Oxford.[9][10][11]

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 informing the audience about the state of the world and how the world is changing.[9][13] In contrast to this event-focussed rubbernecking Roser advocates the adoption of a broader, more holistic perspective on the living conditions around the world:[13] 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 to look 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.[13]

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.[14] An important aspect of this publication is that Roser points out the limits of quantitative information. The publication has had more than 1 million readers per year (September 2015).[14][15] 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.[16][17]

While his research is concerned with rising income inequality[18][19][20] he maintains that in many important aspects the world has made important progress in improving living conditions and aims to show this change by visualising the empirical evidence for these long-term trends.[21][22] 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.[23] Roser has said that the world's most severe problem is global poverty.[24]

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”.[25]


  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 (magazine). Retrieved 2015-09-27. 
  3. ^ Roser, Max. "Income inequality: poverty falling faster than ever but the 1% are racing ahead". The Guardian. Retrieved 2015-09-27. 
  4. ^ "Guess what? More people are living in peace now. Just look at the numbers". The Guardian. Retrieved 2015-09-27. 
  5. ^ Rosenberg, Tina. "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. 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. ^ a b "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. 
  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. ^ a b c "Data Stories #57: Visualizing Human Development with Max Roser". Data Stories. Retrieved 2015-10-24. 
  14. ^ a b "Media Coverage of — Our World in Data". Retrieved 2015-09-27. 
  15. ^ "Estimates of traffic according to Similarweb — Our World in Data". Retrieved 2015-09-27. 
  16. ^ "Max Roser WIRED 2015 talk: good data will make you an economic optimist (Wired UK)". Wired UK. Retrieved 2015-10-24. 
  17. ^ "Roser Speaking – page". Retrieved 2015-10-24. 
  18. ^ Roser, Max. "Income inequality: poverty falling faster than ever but the 1% are racing ahead". The Guardian. Retrieved 2015-09-27. 
  19. ^ Roser, Max; Cuaresma, Jesus Crespo (2014-12-01). "Why is Income Inequality Increasing in the Developed World?". Review of Income and Wealth. doi:10.1111/roiw.12153. ISSN 1475-4991. 
  20. ^ Kaminska, Izabella (2015-01-23). "Give the middle classes their fair share of the pie". Financial Times. ISSN 0307-1766. Retrieved 2015-09-27. 
  21. ^ Roser, Max (2014). "It's a cold, hard fact: our world is becoming a better place". Retrieved 2015-09-27. 
  22. ^ "Lowering World Poverty Depends on India". BloombergView. 2015-10-27. Retrieved 2016-03-12. 
  23. ^ ""Wichtig ist, was nicht passiert" | Welt-Sichten". Retrieved 2015-09-27. 
  24. ^ "Die Menschheit war früher viel gewalttätiger". Sueddeutsche Zeitung. Retrieved 2015-09-27. 
  25. ^ Pinker, Steven. "On my radar: Steven Pinker's cultural highlights". The Guardian. Retrieved 2015-09-27. 

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