Charles Kenny is an optimist about global progress and its positive impact on America. The product and beneficiary of transoceanic romances, he thinks globalization is an immense force for good, and offers Americans new opportunities to learn, work, invest and improve their happiness and wellbeing.
Charles is the author of Getting Better: Why Global Development is Succeeding and How We Can Improve the World Even More (Basic Books: 2011) and The Upside of Down: Why the Rise of the Rest is Great for the West (Basic Books: 2014). He spent fifteen years as an economist in the World Bank, travelling the planet from Baghdad and Kabul to Brasilia and Beijing. He now works at a Washington DC think tank, the Center for Global Development, where he researches and advocates for policies governing investment, trade, technology and migration that would be good for both developing and industrialized countries alike. In addition, he is a widely cited researcher on the economics of happiness. He has a history degree from Cambridge University and Masters degrees from the School of Oriental and African Studies in London and the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.
Charles is a contributing editor at Foreign Policy magazine and was a columnist for Bloomberg Business¸ where he writes on global development and its impact on the US. He has also written for outlets including the Wall Street Journal, Politico, the Washington Post, the Atlantic, Time, the Guardian, Vox, Salon and CNN.
He has presented at investor conferences including for Eurofinance and for Buttonwood Investments as well as at the Urban Land Institute, the World Economic Forum, Aspen Institute and Legatum Institute events. He has given talks at colleges and universities including Duke, Northwestern, Columbia, and Oxford. He’s spoken at public events including at Town Hall Seattle, Zocalo and Veerstichting. He has appeared on PBS' Ideas in Action, Gesprek Op 3 (Dutch TV) Al Jazeera, CCTV, Vox, Reuters TV and Bloomberg TV. On radio he has been a guest on NPR, KERA, Kojo Nnamdi, and the John Batchelor Show.
Charles can speak on a range of topics related to globalization and global progress and its impact on America, as well as global health and the economics of happiness, including:
- Why the rise of the Rest is great for the West: China's economy is now as big as America's and the developing world is the same size as Europe and North America put together. That is simply fantastic news for the US and Europe. A richer developing world imports more of our products, invents and produces goods and services we want and provides educated manpower that we need. And as it gets richer, happier, healthier and more stable, it is more peaceful and less of a source of potential threats.
- Stunning global progress in the quality of life: The average quality of life of humanity has never been higher. The chance of dying in young childhood is half the level of twenty years ago, the number of people educated, the proportion living in a democracy, the number living in a country at peace, even average beer consumption --all are at their highest ever in history. That's great news for them --but it is also great news for us, and speaks to a positive global future.
- Why Americans should get out more: Americans are some of the most stay-at-home people in the industrial world --that's bad for us and the rest of the planet. The rest of the world is increasingly rich, peaceful, educated and interesting. It offers fantastic opportunities for tourism, learning, jobs, investment, healthcare and elder services for those willing to travel.
- The future of global economic and social progress: The last twenty years have been the best in human history when it comes to global progress. The next twenty years could be as good. We have the capacity to wipe out a number of diseases and massively improve global health, extend rapid economic growth, further reduce global violence and spread human rights. And America has a selfish (and central) role to play in making that possibility a reality.
- Progress against global infection and how to stop the next plague. In the last few decades we've wiped out smallpox and brought polio to the edge of extinction. Measles and malaria could follow. For the first time since the dawn of history, most people are dying of non-infectious conditions. But if we aren't careful, infection could come back as the most common cause of death worldwide.
- Happiness in the workplace and economic performance: Happy people are more outgoing, optimistic and cooperative. It isn't surprising that they do better at work. That can be good for a company's -and a country's- bottom line. So, how do you make people happy? It isn't easy (a lot of it is in the genes). But there are things you can do. Limit the spread between high and low- paid employees, use promotions as well as pay for rewards, keep commutes short and holidays long, and make sure people have time to spend with family.