Based on the current rate of growth of world human population, the year 2050 is a fair estimate of when the 9 billionth baby will be born. The rate of scientific and technological advancement in the last few centuries has happened at an unprecedented pace. As recent as the beginning of the 19th century, societies across the globe were functioning on the feudalistic model, where local landlords and warlords ruled their dominions with brute authority. The agrarian societies of the time quickly gave way to the mass industrial economic models, where, as Adam Smith famously pointed out, division of labor and efficiency of production were given great importance. This era lasted a century and half till the 1970, by which time a new global economic paradigm was beginning to take shape.
The 1970s is the pivotal decade in which the neo-liberal economic model (also commonly called ‘globalization’) was being adopted as the core government policy. The United States can be said to have masterminded this transition from industrial-capitalist to the global neo-liberal program. It is not a straight forward case of unrelenting progress from agrarian to industrial to neo-liberal economic structures. If the growing disparity in distribution of health and wealth across the globe is taken into account, then it is easy to get nostalgic about the ‘good old days’. At the time when globalization was being adopted as the preferred system, the United States was engaged in a Cold War with the Soviet Union. The threat of war and the paranoia surrounding Russian nuclear arsenal enabled successive American governments to enact policies that favored select elite interests. A majority of the population was left out of the decision making process, whereas business leaders got to dictate policies to those inhabiting the executive branch of government. In this sense, it is fair to say that the era of globalization was kick started by the Jimmy Carter administration and consolidated and taken forward by all successive governments.
Globalization would not have been as ubiquitous today, if not for the co-operation and co-option of most national governments. Though the United States and some Western European powers masterminded the globalization process, it would not have materialized without the assent (willing or compelled) of various regional leaders across the globe. To give it due credit, erstwhile lagging economies of countries like Japan, Taiwan, Korea and China really prospered during the era of globalization. Numerous other countries like India, Brazil and Russia are beginning to develop their economies in an impressive manner. But the economic gains created under globalization were seldom equitably distributed. To the contrary, it has created vast schisms in the fabric of many societies, leading to civil unrest and mass movements. Even in the United States, the Occupy Wall Street movement amply demonstrated this discontent. (Alexander, 2006) What this suggests is that the quality of life of the 9 billionth baby is very likely to be tough. Unless the baby happens to be born to parents who are part of the economic elite, the prospects for survival in what would be an ultra-competitive environment of 2050 would be weak.