Predictions for 2023, revisited

Hi there, it’s Rose. I’m a writer at Datawrapper, and I’m beginning this new year of Weekly Charts with a look backwards.

Almost nothing has happened yet this year. Every plan, wish, or prediction you made for 2024 could still come true. It’s a fresh start!

Every year starts out the same way — and then, over the course of 12 months, all the what-could-happens and what-might-happens resolve into what-actually-happened. If you want to think realistically about the future, it’s a good idea to look back at how those plans and predictions panned out in the past. So instead of leaping right into 2024, let’s pause in this Weekly Chart to review some forecasts for 2023.

Vox, the Financial Times, and the Economist[1] all published lists of general news predictions for the coming year, covering topics like politics ("Will Erdoğan win the Turkish presidential election?"), climate ("Will the global temperature reach 1.5 degrees of warming?"), and economics ("Will the U.S. go into recession?"). Of all the "year ahead" pieces that come out each December, these stand out for taking clear stances on specific questions — Vox even included subjective probabilities for each judgment. That means we can see how they did, and they did pretty well!

Just for fun, I threw one more set of predictions into the mix: 2023 as envisioned by the press in 1923. They had a much harder task and some of their visions — a four-hour work day! a 300-year lifespan! "kidney cosies"! — have, well, not materialized. But I count a respectable four out of 17 that have:

  • the population of the U.S. is over 300,000,000,
  • we do have "watch sized radio telephones,"
  • it is possible to fly from Chicago to Hamburg in under 18 hours,
  • and, maybe most surprisingly, we can make utensils out of vegetable pulps. Don't know how they saw that one coming.

That's it for today! See you next week for the first Weekly Chart from my colleague Vivien.

  1. Forecasts published in the Economist were generated by the firm Good Judgment. ↩︎